Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama

Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama

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The Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama began in with the 1997 swearing in of Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 to his first term in the Illinois Senate
Illinois Senate
The Illinois Senate is the upper chamber of the Illinois General Assembly, the legislative branch of the government of the state of Illinois in the United States. The body was created by the first state constitution adopted in 1818. The Illinois Senate is made up of 59 senators elected from...

 and ended in 2004 with his election
United States Senate election in Illinois, 2004
The 2004 United States Senate election in Illinois was held on November 2, 2004. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald decided to retire after one term. The Democratic and Republican primary elections were held in March, which included a total of 15 candidates who combined to spend a...

 to the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

. During this part of his career, Obama continued teaching constitutional law
United States constitutional law
United States constitutional law is the body of law governing the interpretation and implementation of the United States Constitution.- Introduction :United States constitutional law defines the scope and application of the terms of the Constitution...

 part-time at the University of Chicago Law School
University of Chicago Law School
The University of Chicago Law School was founded in 1902 as the graduate school of law at the University of Chicago and is among the most prestigious and selective law schools in the world. The U.S. News & World Report currently ranks it fifth among U.S...

 as he had done as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996 and as a Senior Lecturer from 1996–2004.

In 1994, Senator Alice Palmer
Alice Palmer (Illinois politician)
Alice J. Palmer is an American educator and former Democratic member of the Illinois Senate. Known as a longtime progressive activist, Palmer represented the state's 13th senate district from June 6, 1991 until January 8, 1997...

 announced her desire to run for the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

, leaving the Senate's 13th district seat open. When filing opened in 1995 for her seat, Obama entered the race. Eventually, his challengers were disqualified and he won the Democratic primary unopposed in 1996. He won re-election in 1998 and 2002.

During his Senate tenure, Obama was involved with a wide range of legislation, . While serving, he ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in the 2000 elections
Illinois's 1st congressional district election, 2000
The 2000 United States House of Representatives election for the 1st district in Illinois took place on November 7, 2000. While incumbent Democratic Representative Bobby Rush handily defeated his Republican opponent, Raymond Wardingley, this race is noteworthy for the primary challenge Rush...

. In the redistricting following 2000 United States Census, the Democrats gained control of the Illinois Senate, and Obama became more active in his legislation, which included work in areas such as health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

, labor, law enforcement
Law enforcement
Law enforcement broadly refers to any system by which some members of society act in an organized manner to promote adherence to the law by discovering and punishing persons who violate the rules and norms governing that society...

, campaign finance
Campaign finance
Campaign finance refers to all funds that are raised and spent in order to promote candidates, parties or policies in some sort of electoral contest. In modern democracies such funds are not necessarily devoted to election campaigns. Issue campaigns in referendums, party activities and party...

 reform, welfare
Welfare
Welfare refers to a broad discourse which may hold certain implications regarding the provision of a minimal level of wellbeing and social support for all citizens without the stigma of charity. This is termed "social solidarity"...

, and community reinvestment.

First state Senate election, 1996


On November 21, 1994, Senator Alice Palmer
Alice Palmer (Illinois politician)
Alice J. Palmer is an American educator and former Democratic member of the Illinois Senate. Known as a longtime progressive activist, Palmer represented the state's 13th senate district from June 6, 1991 until January 8, 1997...

, a Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 of Chicago's South Shore
South Shore, Chicago
South Shore is one of 77 well-defined community areas of the City of Chicago, Illinois in the United States. A predominately black neighborhood located along Chicago's southern lakefront, it is a relatively stable and gentrifying neighborhood...

 neighborhood announced she was launching a campaign committee to raise funds to run in 1996 for the 2nd congressional district seat of indicted U.S. Representative Mel Reynolds
Mel Reynolds
Melvin Reynolds is a former Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from Illinois. His political career ended in scandal.-Early life:...

, and suggested that 29-year-old Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Jesse Louis Jackson, Jr. is the U.S. Representative for , serving since the special election in 1995. He is a member of the Democratic Party....

 run for her 13th district Illinois Senate seat in 1996 instead of running against her for Congress.

On June 27, 1995, Palmer announced she was running for Congress and would be giving up her Senate seat instead of running for re-election in 1996. The following week, newspapers reported that Palmer-supporter Barack Obama of Hyde Park
Hyde Park, Chicago
Hyde Park, located on the South Side of the City of Chicago, in Cook County, Illinois, United States and seven miles south of the Chicago Loop, is a Chicago neighborhood and one of 77 Chicago community areas. It is home to the University of Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Museum of Science...

—who had been announced as chairman of the $49.2 million Chicago Annenberg Challenge
Chicago Annenberg Challenge
The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was a Chicago public school reform project from 1995 to 2001 that worked with half of Chicago's public schools and was funded by a $49.2 million, 2-to-1 matching challenge grant over five years from the Annenberg Foundation. The grant was contingent on being matched...

 on June 22 and whose memoir Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is a memoir by United States President Barack Obama. It was first published in July 1995 as he was preparing to launch his political career, five years after being elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in...

would be published on July 18—would announce he was running for Palmer's 13h district seat, which was then a T-shaped district that spanned Chicago South Side
South Side (Chicago)
The South Side is a major part of the City of Chicago, which is located in Cook County, Illinois, United States. Much of it has evolved from the city's incorporation of independent townships, such as Hyde Park Township which voted along with several other townships to be annexed in the June 29,...

 neighborhoods from Hyde Park-Kenwood south through South Shore and from the lakefront west through Chicago Lawn
Chicago Lawn, Chicago
Chicago Lawn is one of the 77 community areas of Chicago, Illinois. It is located on the southwest side of the city. Its community neighbors include Gage Park, West Englewood, Ashburn, and West Lawn. It is bounded by Bell Avenue on the east, Central Park Avenue on the west, 59th Street on the...

.

On September 11, 1995, Governor Jim Edgar
Jim Edgar
James Edgar is an American politician who was the 38th Governor of Illinois from 1991 to 1999 and Illinois Secretary of State from 1981 to 1991. As a moderate Republican in a largely blue-leaning state, Edgar was a popular and successful governor, leaving office with high approval ratings...

 set November 28 as the date for a special primary election to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Mel Reynolds following his August 1995 conviction. On September 19, Obama announced his Illinois Senate candidacy to an audience of 200 supporters at the Ramada Inn Lakeshore in Hyde Park
Hyde Park, Chicago
Hyde Park, located on the South Side of the City of Chicago, in Cook County, Illinois, United States and seven miles south of the Chicago Loop, is a Chicago neighborhood and one of 77 Chicago community areas. It is home to the University of Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Museum of Science...

-Kenwood
Kenwood, Chicago
Kenwood, located on the South Side of the City of Chicago, Illinois, is one of the 77 well-defined Chicago community areas.Kenwood was part of Hyde Park Township, which was annexed by the City of Chicago in 1889....

.


Palmer introduced and endorsed Obama as her successor to supporters that included 4th Ward Alderwoman Toni Preckwinkle
Toni Preckwinkle
Toni Reed Preckwinkle is the current Cook County Board President and a former alderman in the Chicago City Council representing Chicago's 4th ward in Cook County, Illinois, United States. She was elected on November 2, 2010, as president of the Cook County Board...

 of Hyde Park, newly elected 5th Ward Alderwoman Barbara Holt of Hyde Park, and state Representative Barbara Flynn Currie
Barbara Flynn Currie
Barbara Flynn Currie is a Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives, representing the 25th District since 1979.- Political career :...

 (D
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

-25) of Hyde Park.

On November 7, 1995, Obama's mother, Ann Dunham
Ann Dunham
Stanley Ann Dunham , the mother of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, was an American anthropologist who specialized in economic anthropology and rural development. Dunham was nicknamed Anna, later known as Dr. Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro, and finally Ann Dunham Sutoro...

, died of metastatic uterine cancer
Uterine cancer
The term uterine cancer may refer to any of several different types of cancer which occur in the uterus, namely:*Uterine sarcomas: sarcomas of the myometrium, or muscular layer of the uterus, are most commonly leiomyosarcomas.*Endometrial cancer:...

 at the age of 52 in Honolulu. Obama arrived in Hawaii the following day, remained for his mother's memorial service and returned to Chicago soon after. On November 28, after finishing a distant third in the special congressional primary election won by Jesse Jackson, Jr., a disappointed Palmer announced she wouldn't seek re-election and was undecided about again challenging Jackson in the March 1996 primary.

On December 11, 1995—the first filing day for nominating petitions—Obama filed his nominating petitions with more than 3,000 signatures; perennial unsuccessful candidate Ulmer Lynch, Jr., also filed nominating petitions. On December 18—the last filing day for nominating petitions—Palmer held a press conference to announce she was running for re-election to the Senate, accepting a draft by more than 100 supporters.








Palmer then drove to Springfield
Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 117,400 , making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area...

 to file her nominating petitions; also filing nominating petitions on the last filing day were first-time candidates Gha-is Askia and Marc Ewell. On December 26, Obama campaign volunteer Ron Davis filed objections to the legitimacy of the nominating petitions of Senator Palmer, Askia, Ewell and Lynch.









On January 17, 1996, Palmer announced she was withdrawing her bid for re-election because she was around 200 signatures short of the 757 needed to earn a place on the ballot after almost two-thirds of the 1,580 signatures on her nominating petitions were found to be invalid.


The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners had previously sustained an objection to the nominating petitions of Lynch because of insufficient valid signatures and subsequently also sustained objections to the nominating petitions of Askia and Ewell because of insufficient valid signatures.

Obama therefore won the Democratic nomination unopposed. On November 5, Obama was won the race for the 13th Senate district, with 82 percent of the vote; perennial unsuccessful Harold Washington Party candidate David Whitehead (13%) and first-time Republican Party candidate Rosette Caldwell Peyton (5%) also ran.

Second state Senate election, 1998


On March 17, 1998, Obama, won re-nomination unopposed, and Yesse Yehudah won the Republican nomination unopposed. At the November 3 general election, Obama was re-elected to a four-year term as state senator for the 13th district with 89% of the vote; first-time Republican Party candidate Yesse Yehudah received 11% of the vote.

Third state Senate election, 2002


Obama won both the March 19 Democratic primary election and November 5, 2002 general election for the newly configured 13th district unopposed.

Early Senate career


On January 8, 1997, Obama was sworn in as senator. Early in his first term, the just-retired U.S. Senator Paul Simon
Paul Simon (politician)
Paul Martin Simon was an American politician from Illinois. He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1975 to 1985 and United States Senate from 1985 to 1997. He was a member of the Democratic Party...

 called a longtime Obama mentor, judge and former congressman Abner Mikva. Simon suggested that Mikva recommend Obama to Emil Jones, Jr., the powerful Democratic leader of the state Senate. "Say, our friend Barack Obama has a chance to push this campaign finance bill through," Simon said in a telephone conversation, as recounted by Mikva in a 2008 interview, "Why don’t you call your friend Emil Jones and tell him how good he is." With Jones' support, Obama helped shepherd through a sweeping law that banned most gifts from lobbyists and personal use of campaign funds by state legislators.

During his first years as a state senator, Obama was a co-sponsor of a bill that re-structured the Illinois welfare program into the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is one of the United States of America's federal assistance programs. It began on July 2, 1997, and succeeded the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, providing cash assistance to indigent American families with dependent children through the...

 (TANF) program. He also helped get various pieces of legislation that established a $100 million Earned Income Tax Credit for working families, increased child care subsidies for low-income families, and required advance notice before mass layoffs and plant closings passed.

Campaign for Bobby Rush's congressional seat



In September 1999, Obama and fellow Senator Donne Trotter
Donne Trotter
Donne Trotter is a Democratic member of the Illinois Senate, representing the 17th district since 1993. His district includes the South side of Chicago and portions of the south suburbs...

 (neither faced re-election that year) both announced their candidacies for the March 2000 Democratic primary election for the U.S. House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 seat held by four-term incumbent candidate Bobby Rush
Bobby Rush
Bobby Lee Rush is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1993. He is a member of the Democratic Party.The district is located principally on the South Side of Chicago. It is a minority-majority district and has a higher percentage of African Americans than any other congressional district in...

. Rush had been badly defeated in the February 1999 Chicago mayoral election by Richard M. Daley
Richard M. Daley
Richard Michael Daley is a United States politician, member of the national and local Democratic Party, and former Mayor of Chicago, Illinois. He was elected mayor in 1989 and reelected in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. He was the longest serving Chicago mayor, surpassing the tenure of his...

—who won 45 percent of the African-American vote and even won Rush's own ward—and was thought to be vulnerable. The support of some veteran Democratic fundraisers who saw Obama as a rising star, along with support of African-American entrepreneurs, helped him keep pace with Rush's fundraising in the district's most expensive race ever.

During the campaign, Rush charged that Obama was not sufficiently rooted in Chicago's black neighborhoods to represent constituents' concerns, and also benefitted from an outpouring of sympathy when his son was shot to death shortly before the election. Obama said Rush was a part of "a politics that is rooted in the past" and said he himself could build bridges with whites to get things done. But while Obama did well in his own Hyde Park base, he didn't get enough support from the surrounding black neighborhoods. Starting with just 10 percent name recognition, Obama went on to get only 31 percent of the votes, losing by a more than 2-to-1 margin despite winning among white voters.

Later Senate career


After losing the primary for U.S. Congress to Bobby Rush, Obama worked to repair relations with black politicians and clergy members, telling them he bore no grudges against the victor. He also became more responsive to requests for state funding, getting money for churches and community groups in his district. Senator Trotter, then the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in 2008 that he knew Obama was responding more to funding requests "because the community groups in his district stopped coming to me".

In September 2001, Democrats won a lottery to redraw legislative districts that had been drawn ten years earlier by Republicans and had helped ensure ten uninterrupted years of Republican control of the Illinois Senate. At the November 2002 election, the Democratic remap helped them win control of the Illinois Senate and expand their majority in the Illinois House to work with the first Democratic Illinois governor in 26 years. In January 2003, Obama became chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, after six years on the committee and four years as its minority spokesman. The new Democratic majority allowed Obama to write and help pass more legislation than in previous years. He sponsored successful efforts to expand children's health care, create a plan to provide equal health care access for all Illinois residents, and create a "Hospital Report Card" system, and worker's rights laws that protected whistleblowers, domestic violence victims, equal pay for women, and overtime pay. His most public accomplishment was a bill requiring police to videotape interrogations and confessions in potential death penalty cases. Obama was willing to listen to Republicans and police organizations and negotiate compromises to get the law passed. That helped him develop a reputation as a pragmatist able to work with various sides of an issue. Obama also led the passage of a law to monitor racial profiling
Racial profiling
Racial profiling refers to the use of an individual’s race or ethnicity by law enforcement personnel as a key factor in deciding whether to engage in enforcement...

 by requiring police to record the race of drivers they stopped.

He resigned from the Illinois Senate in November 2004 following his election to the U.S. Senate.

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