Saturday, November 24, 2012

Will we get Rep. Donne Trotter, D-Ill.?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., is gone, and that has many political observers trying to figure out which of the current government officials are opportunistic enough to try to boost themselves “up and out” to Capitol Hill.
TROTTER: New congressman?

A lot of South Side aldermen and south suburban legislators are giving such a move some thought, along with some political comeback dreamers such as former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger or one-time Rep. Mel Reynolds.

ALTHOUGH ONE OF the names getting serious consideration is that of a state legislator who has been a part of the political scene for a quarter of a century – although I’m not sure how many people outside of a few South Side neighborhoods are familiar with the name “Donne E. Trotter.”

Get used to it! He could soon be the newest member of the Illinois congressional delegation. Because I get the sense he’s going to be seen as the “safe” choice by Democratic Party officials who will be determined to keep the Second Congressional district seat in their column.

Not that it’s in any serious danger of shifting. More than half of the people who live in the district are either on the city’s Far South Side or its surrounding suburbs in Cook County that have developed majority African-American populations.

The district may go as far south as the Kankakee/Iroquois county line – but the southern end of the district is so sparsely populated that it won’t matter how much those residents will desperately want “anybody but” a city-based Democrat representing them in Washington.

THOSE WERE THE people who gave Republican Brian Woodworth 61 percent of their support on Election Day, only to have Jackson win 63 percent of the vote overall.

Officially, Gov. Pat Quinn is to make some sort of announcement on Monday as to when a special election would be held sometime during the next four months (although some officials are trying to figure if it could be scheduled on the same date – April 9 – as the 2013 municipal elections).

Democratic Party committeemen already have started discussing the process for a special election, and they seem more concerned with the idea of getting party people to unite behind a single candidate from among all the officials who are throwing their names into the fight.

A lot of them are seeing Trotter as the one name who could possibly unite Democrats (at least those Dems from more urban areas) and help avoid a bloodbath by which a dozen Dems knock each other down and allow a no-name to actually get the Congressional seat.

ALTHOUGH I’D ARGUE that if the people of the district had wanted a “no-name,” they would have picked one of the other names on the ballot back on Nov. 6.

For the record, Trotter was born in Cairo, Ill., but has lived the bulk of his life in Chicago and is both Chicago State and Loyola University-educated. He’s been in the General Assembly since 1988 and has held his Illinois Senate seat since 1993.

Although when his legislative district was redrawn to stretch south to Will County communities such as Crete and Peotone), he actually took the time to visit the communities and make himself familiar with their interests.

That kind of attitude is what has party officials thinking he’s the kind of guy who could appeal to all in that physically-huge congressional district filled with people whose worlds almost never interact.

PERSONALLY, I’D HAVE to admit that the idea of Trotter in Congress amuses me because I remember my first dealings with him back when I was with the now-defunct City News Bureau of Chicago.

I used to be a full-time crime reporter, and that included becoming very familiar with officials at all the area hospitals. Including Trotter, who back then was an administrator at the formerly-named Cook County Hospital.

The idea that I used to deal with a future Congressman to get medical condition updates of the latest gunshot victim sort of amuses me.

Although I have recollections of one argument with Trotter where he was being particularly close-mouthed about a specific patient. In retrospect it likely was Chicago Police officials trying to control the flow of information so much that they weren’t being fully forthcoming with the hospital.
SIMON: The old bow tie

NOT THAT I expect Trotter to remember that specific moment – it bewilders me that I remember it so clearly, other than that my brain tends to be cluttered with trivia.

Although it does have me wondering one point. One of Trotter’s trademarks is his dapper appearance, particularly the bow ties he insists on wearing.

We haven’t had a politico who relied so heavily on the bow tie since the departure of Paul Simon from the U.S. Senate. I’d say we’re due!


EDITOR’S NOTE: For those of you wishing to reminisce about Jesse Jackson, Jr., while others will wonder what will become of the proposed new airport project that Jackson often seemed to be the only champion of.

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