* I can’t keep all my polls secret. I figured this one would get picked up by at least some major media outlets. Indicted and expelled former state Rep. Derrick Smith has a huge 48-9 lead over his third-party opponent, Lance Tyson…
The survey, which showed 43 percent of respondents undecided, was performed by Illinois pollster We Ask America on Sept. 12 and first reported Monday by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rich Miller in his Capitol Fax newsletter.
Gregg Durham, chief operating officer of the polling group, said it appears residents in the 10th House District may be unaware of Smith’s August expulsion from the House because of his federal bribery charge.
“Usually, when we dig into these types of details, there’s a surprising amount of people busy making a living, raising kids and going through normal struggles of life who are unaware of what has happened,” Durham told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Former Rep. Smith has a common last name, and it’s not uncommon anywhere in Illinois for people to not pay attention in a state representative race, especially when there’s an important presidential race at hand,” he said. “If this election were held today, he’d swamp Mr. Tyson.”
Smith was indicted last spring after allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe from an undercover FBI informant who claimed to be acting as an intermediary to a purported daycare operator wanting Smith’s help in obtaining a $50,000 state grant. Smith allegedly wrote a letter of support for the daycare operator before taking the informant’s money.
Durham said another factor is that the automated poll informed voters of Smith and Tyson’s political affiliations, and many Democrats likely were swayed by learning Smith is the only Democrat in the race.
Among respondents who identified themselves as Democrats, 57 percent favored Smith, and only 7 percent chose Tyson.
* From Carol Marin’s weekend column on Derrick Smith…
(Y)ou might assume that some party regulars would be thrilled to endorse Tyson, running on the Unity Party ticket.
Secretary of State Jesse White, who launched Smith’s political career and now renounces him, supports Tyson.
But others? Not so much.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is “neutral” in this race, according to her political director.
As is Madigan, whose own political committee was providing financial resources to Smith at the same time lawmakers were ousting him.
There are a lot of political subplots to this story, including beleaguered West Side politicians struggling to keep their power base who think Smith — even under a federal cloud — helps them more than Tyson.
* And Eric Zorn’s take on Marin’s column was prescient, since he didn’t know the poll results when he posted this…
My theory: They’re anticipating Smith will be convicted at his federal corruption trial, scheduled to start later this year, and will therefore be ineligible to serve in the General Assembly. And they’re afraid that Smith still has enough support in his district to deal the party an embarrassing loss. So rather than risk the humiliation of extending themselves for Tyson — who was once former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s chief of staff — they’d rather wait and hand-pick a safe and compliant replacement for Smith.
The other theory I’ve heard is that the House Democrats would rather not “waste” precious money on Smith which could be used to defeat Republicans. The ball may be entirely in Jesse White’s court now.