In a surprising move, the Democratic ward committeemen (and women) from the 13th legislative district (led by 4th ward alderman Toni Preckwinkle and 5th ward alderman Leslie Hairston who together cast a majority of the votes) chose attorney Kwame Raoul over seven other candidates, including Will Burns, senior staffer to Senate President Emil Jones.
The news stories are here and here.
I thought Will would be the best candidate, as he is a policy-oriented guy, and the best service a state legislator can give to his or her constituents (in my view) is to pass progressive legislation that benefits everyone in the state. The aldermen were quoted in the papers as citing Raoul's ward organization work as the motivating factor for his selection, which is not the main benefit a state legislator can bring to his or her constituents. If that's the main factor driving their choice, that's a mistake. I hope Raoul will rise to the challenge and fill Obama's large shoes as much as possible. If we want Blue America to raise the standard of living for people, we need the very best legislators available to push the policy envelope.
Raoul is an attorney with the City Colleges of Chicago, so it's a good thing the strike was called off this weekend, as he has quit that job to be a full time state senator.
Some of the posters painted Raoul as sort of the 'people's choice' and Burns as part of 'President Jones' Empire', since President Jones endorsed Burns. I don't really get the hostility to President Jones, so if any of the posters could enlighten me as to what motivates those views, I'd appreciate it.
UPDATE (February 1, 2008): Fast forward four years or so. Senator Raoul has emerged as a progressive leader in the Senate, pushing forward policy proposals. Will Burns continued to work for the Senate, and now with the active encouragement of Senator Raoul, Will is a candidate for State Representative in the same district. The two rivals have joined together as policy-oriented progressives. With the third state representative as House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, the district would have the trifecta of some of the best legislators in the state.
Will's campaign website, for those looking, is here and Kwame Raoul's campaign website is here.