By BJ Lutz And Carol Marin
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In Illinois’ 10th Representative District, voters have a choice between two Democrats, though only one is listed that way on the ballot.
Attorney Lance Tyson is running under the Unity Party because Derrick Smith, who was booted from the Illinois House earlier this year after being indicted on federal bribery charges, is listed as the Democrat in an attempt to win back his seat.
Smith has pleaded not guilty to the charges and expressed confidence voters would send him back to Springfield. Illinois law says that if he is elected he cannot be expelled a second time for the same reason.
“It’s looking pretty good. We’re out doing what we have to do and talking to our constituents,” Smith said Monday in an impromptu interview in the parking lot of Wallace Davis’ Catfish Corners, on the 2800 block of West Madison Street. “I have the people that’s supporting me, they are the ones that are encouraging me to run and to keep on running.”
Tyson, the former chief of staff for former County Board President Todd Stroger, is backed by Gov. Pat Quinn, Secretary of State Jesse White and aldermen from eight wards in the district.
“We’re winning, and we’re aggressively letting folks know that a choice for my opponent would be a choice to make sure that we don’t get the tax dollars that we send down to Springfield,” Tyson said at his campaign headquarters.
Tyson doesn’t, however, have the backing of current County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who has called her predecessor “inept.”
He deflected that criticism of his former boss, saying that while he was chief of staff, the Stroger Administration balanced the county budget, increased the scope of the Inspector General’s office and left the county with one of the best credit ratings in the state.
“It’s that type of expertise that I don’t think has ever been seen by the voters here on the west side,” said Tyson.
But Smith maintains his record in public service will prevail.
“[Tyson] hasn’t been around. I’ve been around for over 26 years in the district but I’ve been involved in the political arena over 32 years and I just learned his name. I don’t know who he is,” said Smith.
At Moon’s Sandwich Shop, voter Ron McCauley said he knows Tyson and has already cast his ballot for him at an early voting location.
“If [Smith has] been kicked out of the Assembly Hall, he can’t represent me,” he explained.
But behind the register, LaTonya Crump said she’s sticking with the Democrat.
Smith declined to answer questions about the indictment, referring questions to his attorneys, but said he was looking forward to his day in court.
Asked his prediction for the outcome of the race, Smith said it’s in God’s hands.
“Only He knows,” he said.