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Poll: Ousted legislator has huge lead

Monday, Sep 17, 2012

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Newsclown - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 12:47 pm:

    Is there clearer example anywhere of how broken the 2-party system is? Every Democrat should be ashamed of this entire affair.

  2. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 12:48 pm:

    Polling doesnt surprise me. How many voters know about indictment? And trust prosecutors?

  3. - Just Observing - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 12:49 pm:


  4. - That Guy - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 12:50 pm:

    Low information voters?

  5. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 12:56 pm:

    I blame myself.

    I mis-read Rep. Derrick Smith, (D - $4,500 Signature Bond).

    The voters are supporting Rep. Smith because of his Constituent Service, his voting record, and legislative accomplishments. Never underestimate that Good Politics make Good Government.

    I was all wet on this one …

  6. - Been There - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 1:06 pm:

    ===The ball may be entirely in Jesse White’s court now.===
    Jesse doesn’t have a huge war chest right now but enough that he could spot Lance some decent dough. A couple of good mailings and continued pounding on doors and hopefully the voters in this district see the light.
    I hope so because it is almost impossible to lobby Derrick on issues. At least for me.

  7. - Bemused - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 1:18 pm:

    I would wonder how many of those voters are of the mind set ” all politicians are crooked and he just got set up because he made someone mad”. A lot of mistrust of the man out there.

  8. - Fight for Cicero - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 1:23 pm:

    Let’s be honest… the Dems aren’t all to blame here voting for their indicted ex-state rep because he’s a Democrat. The Republicans have this problem too… Exhibit #A, Cicero Dan as a “teabagger”.

  9. - Just Me - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 1:23 pm:

    I always found it interesting that the Speaker never commented on Smith’s impeachment because he said he would have to oversee the impeachment process in his role as Speaker. However, he was very vocal about the impeachment of Rod Blagojevich. What surprises me even more is not a single reporter asked him about that inconsistency.

  10. - OneMan - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 1:31 pm:

    Going to sound silly, but can he get elected and get tossed again on the first day of session, is there a double jeopardy constraint on removal?

  11. - Lobo Y Olla - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 1:39 pm:

    @ Oneman—–

    If he’s reelected, he cannot be removed for the same offense.

  12. - Lobo Y Olla - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 1:45 pm:

    From the Sun-Times, “If somehow Smith defeats Tyson on Nov. 6, he can reclaim his House seat in January, and the House would have to decide whether to re-initiate expulsion proceedings using a different reason than the rationale from August or simply allow him to remain in office pending the outcome of his federal corruption trial.”

  13. - amalia - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 2:16 pm:

    cue the Derrick Smith/Barack Obama signs.

  14. - Jaded - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 2:41 pm:

    I think it is hilarious. The guy shouldn’t have been kicked out in the first place before he was convicted. It’s not like he was the first member of the House to be indicted. Some have gone to jail, but at least one of them beat the rap and went on to a long career in the Senate and still another beat the rap and went on to a very successful lobbying career.

  15. - wordslinger - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 3:39 pm:

    I’ll try not to faint.

    Rep. Smith is a nobody small-fry and not the smartest criminal in the world. So he gets re-elected? Who cares? The mushroom gets kicked out again.

    He’s not the problem. Above-ground and underground gangsters historically and today have exerted a great more influence on public policy than Rep. Smith ever could.

    To state a few obvious examples in our own state, and to keep it bipartisan, among the underground, you can start with the D’Arcos and Marcys among the Dems and the Malteses and Stephens among the GOP.

    There was also a guy named Frank Zito who was a real big shot in Springfield back in the day and couldn’t explain his presence in Applachin, New York in 1957.

    Let’s not even start on the influence drug money can spread around in the neighborhoods when it comes election time in every town everywhere.

    There are so many more. Visit your local library and read Gus Russo, Bill Roemer, and William Cooley for starters.

    But the Above-ground big dogs are much more sinister. If you read the Wall Street Journal every day, you’ll see a sorry parade of the biggest names in banking settling fraud claims with the Department of Justice for hundreds of millions.

    They didn’t do it. They just paid out hundreds of millions not to be bothered.

    Pres. Nixon used to golf with Anthony Provenzano,

  16. - amalia - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 3:57 pm:

    isn’t there a Provenzano in suburban politics? related?

  17. - walkinfool - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 4:39 pm:

    John Adams said party loyalty would be the death of the new Republic.

    I bet the Feds could snooker him again, smart as he is.

    First trial first.

  18. - park - Monday, Sep 17, 12 @ 6:28 pm:


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