Although the most watched political race on November 6th in Illinois will be whether America elects Mitt Romney or re-elects Barack Obama to be president, there is a less-known Illinois Statehouse political campaign with fascinating ramifications. It will answer the question of whether it is more important to be the Illinois Democratic Party candidate than the candidate supported by the Illinois Democratic Party in Chicago.
The race for Representative of the Illinois House’s 10th District pits Derrick Smith, who is sort of the incumbent, against Lance Tyson. The reason why Smith is sort of the incumbent is because he did serve in that position until he was expelled by his chamber colleagues earlier this year because he was charged by federal investigators of accepting a $7,000 bribe. The time-line below helps explain and frame the conundrum:
• March 11, 2011 – Smith is appointed to his seat;
• March 13, 2012 – Smith is arrested on the bribery charge;
• March 20, 2012 – Smith wins the primary by 77 percent to keep his seat;
• August 17, 2012 – Smith is expelled from the Illinois House by a vote of 100 to 6.
Supposedly there was an agreement/deal that Smith would drop his name from the ballot after he was expelled to focus on his legal woes and not cause the Illinois Democratic Party any political woes. But if there was a deal, he obviously changed his mind and remains the Democratic Party candidate for the seat he was expelled from.
After a lot of jockeying, Lance Tyson, a lawyer and previously a chief-of-staff to former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, became the candidate of choice for the Democratic Party. But he couldn’t be the party candidate in the General Election because Smith would not step down. So, Tyson is the candidate of the Unity Party.
The website, www.repderricksmith.com, does not show any upcoming events or endorsements. But, www.lancetyson.com promotes events, boasts that Tyson is “the real Democrat” in the race and lists endorsements from a “who’s who” of Illinois Democratic Party elite, including:
• Governor Pat Quinn
• Secretary of State Jesse White
• State Representative Dan Burke
• City of Chicago Clerk Susana Mendoza
• Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart
• Cook County Recorder of Deeds elect (and 7th District State Rep) Karen Yarbrough
• Cook County Board Commissioner John Daley
• 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett
• 4th Ward Alderman William Burns
• 2nd Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti
• 37th Ward Alderman Emma Mitts
• 1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno
• 32 Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack
In September, a poll showed Smith leading Tyson 48 percent to 9 percent, with 43 percent undecided. That lead has probably narrowed with the backing of the (D) Party power players, but will it be enough to erase a 39 point lead in a couple of months? So, does the name after (D) mean more in Chicago than the backing of the (D) Party? The answer will be revealed on November 6th. But to be non-partisan, what if the party was the GOP and the race was in DuPage County?