MATTESON | A former Illinois legislator now working for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle began campaigning Sunday to replace U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., in Congress.
Robin Kelly, chief administrative officer for Preckwinkle, used an afternoon appearance at Mr. Benny’s Steakhouse to say she will be among the dozen or so candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination to represent the Illinois 2nd District.
Kelly, who served as a state representative in Springfield from Matteson from 2003-06, made it clear she would be a supporter of the policies of President Barack Obama – whom she knew when both served in the Illinois General Assembly.
“The Tea Party Express spends more time trying to take down our president than they do trying to lift up our country,” Kelly said. “The right-wingers who want to repeal ‘Obamacare’ are going to fail just as badly as when they tried this year to repeal President Obama himself.”
Kelly’s campaign activity occurred the same day that Gov. Pat Quinn gave his approval to a bill that sets the special election primary for Feb. 26 and the general election for April 9 – the same dates as the 2013 municipal elections.
Without the change in law, a special election would have had to be complete by March 19, and Quinn cited an estimate from the Illinois State Board of Elections that said a separate election would have cost $2.5 million.
It also sets the filing period for nominating petitions for the week leading up to Christmas, although Quinn said that rather than having a Dec. 24 deadline which exists for the municipal elections, the deadline for the special congressional election will be Dec. 26.
Kelly’s campaign manager, Doug Price, said the next 86 days leading up to the primary election will be unique, and not just because of the short time period to get together nominating petitions and campaign.
“I like water, but I’m praying there’s no snow,” Price said.
As of Sunday, Democrat names in the mix for the job include former U.S. Reps. Debbie Halvorson, of Crete, and Mel Reynolds, of Chicago; Chicago 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale; state Sens. Donnie Trotter, D-Chicago, and Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields; state Sen.-elect Napoleon Harris, D-Flossmoor; attorney Sam Adam Jr., of Chicago; and former state Rep. David Miller, of Lynwood.
Party officials have a session scheduled for Dec. 15 at South Suburban College in South Holland where a committee led by Thornton Township Democratic Committeeman Frank Zuccarelli will try to pick a single candidate for office.
Such slating does not stop other candidates from running against the political party’s preference, although Kelly said she plans to try to seek the party support for her campaign.
“I’ll take all the endorsements we can get,” she said.
Kelly also said she thinks her record holds up well against any of the other Democrats wishing to run for Congress.
She said she has worked in municipal, state and county government during her career in public service.
“I have been training for 20 years for this moment,” she said.