At a time when Democrats and even more than a few Republicans are pressuring President Donald Trump to concede the election to former Vice President Joe Biden, it’s instructive to take a look at how former President Barack Obama won his seat in the Illinois state Senate in 1996.
A Chicago Tribune article published in April 2007 tells the unflattering truth. Tribune reporters David Jackson and Ray Long wrote that rather than winning the race “by leveling the playing field,” Obama won “by clearing it.”
Jackson and Long described the events unfolding in the 13th District of Illinois in the summer of 1995. After then-U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds, a Democrat, was “convicted of sex crimes, a special election was called to fill his congressional seat.” The Illinois state senator at the time, Alice Palmer, decided to run for Reynolds’ seat in Congress.
A special Democratic primary election was then scheduled for March 1996 to fill her Senate seat. And, after speaking with Palmer, Obama joined the race.
In an interview with Jackson and Long for their 2007 article, Palmer admitted that Obama had “asked her whether she wanted to keep her options open and file to run for her state Senate seat as a fallback in case her congressional bid failed.” Palmer told Obama she “wasn’t going to run.”
They also spoke to Obama, who shared what he had said to Palmer at the time.
“Once I announce, and I have started to raise money, and gather supporters, hire staff and opened up an office, signed a lease, then it’s going to be very difficult for me to step down,” he said. “And she gave me repeated assurances that she was in [the congressional race] to stay.”
Palmer lost her bid for Reynolds’ seat and decided to run in the primary for her state Senate seat. “To get on the ballot, Palmer needed to file nominating petitions signed by at least 757 district voters — and the Dec. 18 deadline was just days away,” the Tribune report said.
Palmer met the deadline, and so did several other candidates.
Obama told Jackson and Long that Palmer had asked him to drop his bid and, considering their conversation in the summer of 1995, he was understandably quite angry. He said, “I am disappointed that she’s decided to go back on her word to me.”
On Jan. 2, 1996, according to Jackson and Long, “operatives for Barack Obama filed into a barren hearing room of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.”
“There they [Obama, his lawyer and his team] began the tedious process of challenging hundreds of signatures on the nominating petitions of state Sen. Alice Palmer … And they kept challenging petitions until every one of Obama’s four Democratic primary rivals was forced off the ballot,” the report said.
Nothing that Obama and his team did was illegal. One by one, they challenged each signature that his opponents had gathered as they were entitled to do.
The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners worked with the Obama campaign through that slow, painstaking process. Obama took advantage of the legal process that was available to him and was able to eliminate all four of his competitors.
Jackson and Long do not indicate how long it took to go through several thousand signatures, but one can only imagine. All of this was in a primary election for a state Senate seat.
Why, then, has Obama become one of Trump’s most vocal critics as he pursues the legal process available to him? The president is entitled to dispute the numerous irregularities that have come to light in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
The Trump legal team reports it has collected hundreds of affidavits from individuals claiming they’ve witnessed various forms of election fraud.
Attorney Sidney Powell, a person I’ve always found to be highly credible and trustworthy, has lodged the most incendiary charges of all, alleging that the election results were manipulated via computer-based fraud.
If she can prove these allegations, this would truly be the political crime of the century. Powell said the legal team has the evidence it needs to prove these accusations and expects its lawsuits to be filed by the end of this week. Friday, she noted, is not a federal holiday.
On Sunday night, Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis put out a statement distancing themselves from Powell.
“Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own. She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity,” they said.
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) November 22, 2020
This has led many observers to believe her shocking allegations were false.
Powell responded to an inquiry from CBS News with the following statement:
“I understand today’s press release,” she said. “I will continue to represent #WeThePeople who had their votes for Trump and other Republicans stolen by massive fraud through Dominion and Smartmatic, and we will be filing suit soon. The chips will fall where they may, and we will defend the foundations of this great Republic. #KrakenOnSteroids.”
— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) November 23, 2020
We’ll be watching closely to see how this situation plays out.
In the meantime, we must allow the legal process the opportunity to run its course. Just as Obama was given the time he needed in 1996, the president’s case must be heard.
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