Friday, December 07, 2012

Death to Trotter campaign? More like the butt of tacky jokes in coming months

When I wrote a couple of weeks ago that we ought to start getting used to the idea of “Rep. Donne Trotter, D-Ill.,” it was based off the idea that several Democratic Party officials were saying that they really want him to win the special election.
TROTTER: We'll learn how thick his skin is

And that they were willing to work to get him slated as the preference of the Democratic Party in Cook County. Which would mean that any of the other candidates would have to seriously grasp the attention of the voting public in the Illinois Second Congressional district.

THAT, AND THEY’D have to have the capacity to come up with lots of money to pay for their own campaign.

But now, we have Trotter’s name prominently in the news. He’s definitely getting the most attention of any of the prospective candidates to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr. – although for all the wrong reasons.

Trotter, who should have been at the Statehouse in Springfield on Wednesday and Thursday for the veto session, actually was planning to be in Washington, D.C.

Part of it was to attend an event for African-American politicos across the nation. And it seems that he also was going to work his connections to try to raise some of the money he needs if he is to campaign seriously in the special election cycle that runs through April 9.

BUT AS MANY of us know, he never got on the airplane at O’Hare International Airport. He spent Wednesday-into-Thursday in a Chicago Police lockup.

His carry-on bag was found to have a pistol in it, along with a clip loaded with ammunition. He faces charges in Cook County Circuit Court, and bond was set for him at $25,000 on Thursday.

It had some people initially speculating that Trotter is going to prison. He’s going to be a felon. He can’t run for office. So which of the other nothings will manage to come forward.

Of course, much of that speculation was from people who didn’t like the idea of Trotter being considered all-so-dominant to begin with.

THEY WANT TO believe he’s political toast!

Upon learning details, I have to admit that I’m swayed by the fact that Trotter actually has a permit to carry this particular weapon (one he got through connections he has with a security company). That may well be the factor that ultimately gets the current felony charges reduced to something less significant.

Besides, I have known many political people (particularly when it comes to those officials who represent African-American constituencies -- remember Dorothy Tillman?!?) who manage to get some sort of credential that gives them the authority to carry a pistol.

It’s as though they think electoral office includes a firearms permit as one of its perks!

SO THE IDEA that Trotter would feel the need to have a firearm? I’m not shocked.

The part that is shocking is Trotter’s story that he “forgot” he was carrying the weapon. “I forgot” usually doesn’t work as a legal alibi in criminal cases – although I couldn’t help noting that the Capitol Fax newsletter looked up the relevant criminal statute and found that prosecutors will have to prove that Trotter “knowingly (had) in his or her possession any firearm …”

“I forgot,” combined with that legal permit, may well get him out of any serious trouble.

But there are legal issues, then there is public perception.

AND THAT IS where the Trotter campaign for Congress is going to take a blow – although some of those Democratic Party officials told the Chicago Sun-Times that they’re sticking behind Trotter for the time being.

I’m just waiting to see which candidate is the first to use their precious campaign funds to produce and air a negative ad that bashes Trotter as some sort of gun-toting maniac!

It will be nonsense, but it will be the kind of rhetoric that he’ll have to deal with throughout the campaign. It will be the issue that all the opponents can use against him.

Although noting that some gun rights advocates on Wednesday were defending Trotter, it makes me wonder if he might actually pick up a few votes in those rural parts of the district where local candidates like to talk about “concealed carry” – which this wasn’t because Trotter didn’t have the pistol on his person when it was found by airport security.

UP UNTIL NOW, Trotter’s “trademark,” so to speak, were the bowties that he always wore with his immaculate suits. But we’re going to get a lot of material for bad jokes from the happenings of the past couple of days.

How long until we get the image of Trotter as a bow-tied,  but gun-toting, cowboy walking his way up toward Capitol Hill?

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