Monday, February 18, 2013

Toi gives up present electoral aspirations so she can have a political future

If I lived in the Illinois Second Congressional district (I’m just outside it in the Illinois First), I probably would have voted next week for Toi Hutchinson.
HUTCHINSON: She's gone

In my dealings with her, she has come across as a responsible official with a sense that not only does her legislative district (south suburban and parts of rural Will and Kankakee counties) have to benefit, but other districts should as well.

WE ALL BENEFIT when we’re doing well and getting something we desire. There are those who mock her as the creator of the “pole tax” (the fee charged to people who attend strip clubs to raise money for domestic abuse programs), but I think we need more people like her in public office.

That’s my opinion. But it really doesn’t matter now, because Hutchinson, the state senator from Olympia Fields, formally gave up her Congressional campaign on Sunday.

She went so far as to say she’ll back the bid of former state Rep. Robin Kelly of Matteson – who has her own qualifications for the post and should now be thought of as the front-runner in next Tuesday’s Democratic primary special election to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr. (the man whose “big crime” was using campaign contributions to buy himself a load of junk that once belonged to people like Michael Jackson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.

There are those who want to believe that recent news reports about how Hutchinson put her mother on the campaign payroll (I don’t know if she actually did work for her money) is a scandal that would have dogged her chances of winning.

THERE ALSO IS the fact that the same people who have been trashing congressional candidate Debbie Halvorson as some sort of outrageous “gun nut” because the National Rifle Association hasn’t demonized her in the same way they have Kelly’s record as a legislator were planning a new round of campaign advertisements for the final week of campaigning that would have given Hutchinson the same treatment.
KELLY: The new frontrunner?

Although what has caught my attention about the campaigning is the silent sniping that has been directed at Hutchinson. Kelly campaign types seem to think that their candidate ought to be the frontrunner, and that Hutchinson (who is 16 years younger) ought to wait her turn. Even though I wonder if Kelly was such a nondescript legislator that most people had never heard of her until this campaign cycle began.

Why do I suspect that if Halvorson, a Crete resident, former member of Congress looking for a comeback, and the only white person seeking to represent the majority African-American district, would have put Hutchinson on the line as the spoiler if a white lady had really wound up getting the congressional seat.

After all, Hutchinson was once Halvorson’s chief of staff back when Debbie was a member of the Illinois state Senate. And it is Hutchinson who holds Halvorson’s old legislative seat.

PERSONALLY, I HAVE heard and seen enough to know that this campaign cycle has created tensions that have torn at the Halvorson/Hutchinson ties. But too many political observers are more than willing to believe a good conspiracy tale.

Toi Hutchinson selling out black people to benefit her one-time political patron? It could be a tag that could very well stick. Which could result in a targeted effort to dump her from her state Senate post in the 2016 election cycle, and to ensure she could never run a credible campaign for any political post again.

Hutchinson herself indirectly addressed that issue when issuing her statement Sunday that confirmed the end of her current campaign. “I am simply unwilling to risk playing a role going forward that could result in dividing our community at a time when we need unity more than ever,” she said.

Stepping down now could allow the Kelly backers to gradually forget exactly what alleged role they were willing to lambast Hutchinson with. She might be forgiven.

HECK, I’VE HEARD some speculation that Hutchinson could be on the Democratic slate of candidates who run for statewide office in 2014 (Treasurer Toi?).

Say what you want about the improbability of the chances of her actually winning the post. But it probably sounds like a much more attractive future for Hutchinson than a second-place finish on Feb. 26 – and a “bulls eye” on her back come the future.


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