*** UPDATE *** This will happen tomorrow, not today, but it’s happening…
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
The huge field of candidates running for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s former seat in Congress is about to get slightly less huge.
A source who would know says that Ald. Will Burns, 4th, will announce this afternoon that he’s changed his mind and won’t be running. Mr. Burns didn’t do very well in a poll recently commissioned by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and, given the short nature of the special-election campaign, decided to hold his fire for now. But don’t be surprised to see the former staffer for then-state Sen. Barack Obama pitch himself for statewide office down the road, perhaps comptroller or treasurer.
* As subscribers already know, Cook County Democrats will meet in December to see if they can slate a candidate for resigned Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.’s old seat. Thornton Township Supervisor and Democratic Committeeman Frank Zuccarelli will be chairing the slatemaking committee and he already has a preferred candidate…
While Zuccarelli is encouraging candidates to contact him to be part of the December slating session so they can make their pitch, he’s not exactly walking in to this with an open mind. He said he already knows that if state Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), who has expressed interest in the job, is running, that’s who he’s backing. Trotter’s legislative district, which stretches from the South Side to the suburbs, covers some of the same territory as the 2nd Congressional District, helping him understand the issues facing residents there, Zuccarelli said.
“Even though some people who’ve been mentioned (as candidates) might do a decent job — nobody comes close” to Trotter, Zuccarelli said. “I’m going to conduct inteviews and I’ll listen to what people say — but the only way my mind would change is if Donne dropped out.”
Sen. Trotter appears to be in the race to stay, and that endorsement by Zuccarelli is huge. He’s already lined up other wards and townships, but Zuccarelli has just about the best organization in all of Cook County, and an absolute ton of the weighted vote.
* Ted McClelland interviewed Trotter back when Trotter ran for Congress against Bobby Rush and Barack Obama...
Trotter, who has thrown his hat into the ring for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s congressional seat, is a member of one of the biggest, oldest clans on the South Side, a family that beat everyone else to Chicago by a generation or two. Trotter’s roots in this town go all the way back to 1900, when his great-grandfather, a Choctaw Indian named Granville Trotter, arrived here from Oklahoma. The senator says Granville and his wife had “13 kids who begat another 13 kids who begat another 13 kids.”
Trotter’s grandfather, Walter Trotter, was a prominent minister in Hyde Park, and his cousin Larry was a bishop at Sweet Holy Spirit Full Gospel Baptist Church. Combing through the voter rolls, the senator’s staff decided to invite all the Trotters they found to a fund-raiser. (Another time, he held a “Trottin’ with Trotter” event at the harness races at Hawthorne Race Course.)
Trotter lives in South Shore, at 84th and Yates, but he grew up in Grand Crossing, around the corner from Ralph Metcalfe, the Olympic sprinter who represented the First District for many years. He was a Boy Scout with Metcalfe’s son, Ralph Jr., who later ran for alderman. He remembers when the Palm Tavern was the hangout for “Billy Eckstine and all the jazz greats,” and when the Rosenwald Building, now a flophouse, was home to the black middle class. His campaign was “Chicago’s Native Son” — as opposed to Rush, who’d grown up in Georgia, and Obama, who was from Hawaii.
Trotter, who was and still is the best-dressed man in Illinois, embodied South Side urbanity, with tailored suits, bow ties, soul food lunches, and smooth jazz oozing from the speakers of his Jeep. He held his campaign kick-off luncheon at Army and Lou’s. When we sat down for an interview, he took me to a vegetarian soul food restaurant on 87th Street.
If he can raise the money, Trotter could very well be the one to beat.