Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama

Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama

Infobox Officeholder
name = Barack Obama

imagesize =

caption =
order = Illinois State Senator
from the 13th district
term_start = January 8, 1997
term_end = November 4, 2004
predecessor = Alice J. Palmer
successor = Kwame Raoul
birth_date = birth date and age|1961|08|4
birth_place = Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.
nationality = American
party = Democratic
spouse = Michelle Obama (m. 1992)
children = Malia Ann (b. 1998),
Natasha ("Sasha") (b. 2001)

residence=(Kenwood), Chicago, Illinois
alma_mater = Harvard Law School
Columbia University
Occidental College
profession = Attorney / Politician
religion = Christian: United Church of Christ
net worth = $1.3 million (

website = [ Barack Obama—U.S. Senator for Illinois]
footnotes =
The Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama stretched from 1996 to 2004, when Barack Obama was elected to the United States Senate. Starting in 1993 and throughout his state senate career, Obama also taught constitutional law part-time at the University of Chicago Law School, as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996 and as a Senior Lecturer from 1996-2004, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. [cite web |url= |title=Statement Regarding Barack Obama |accessdate=2008-03-29 |work=University of Chicago Law School See also: cite news| work=Chicago Sun-Times | first=Lynn | last=Sweet | url=,CST-NWS-sweet30.article | title=No 'Professor' Obama at U. of C. | date=March 30, 2008 | accessdate=2008-04-02 See also: cite news | first=Abdon M | last=Pallasch | title=Professor Obama was a Listener, Students Say | date=February 12 2007 | url=,CST-NWS-prof12.article | work=Chicago Sun-Times | accessdate=2008-01-04 ]

tate elections

Obama ran for State Senator when Alice Palmer decided to run for Congress in a 1995 special election, and he received her endorsement.cite news | publisher=The New Yorker | date=July 21, 2008 | accessdate=2008-07-25| url= | title=Making It -- How Chicago shaped Obama] After being defeated in the primary by Jesse Jackson Jr., Palmer returned to request that Obama drop out of the race and let her run again for the seat.cite web|url=|title= Jesse Jackson Jr. Wins Primary in Chicago|accessdate=2008-04-18|date=1995-11-29|publisher=The New York Times Company|work=The New York Times] Obama declined, and Palmer decided to run against him. Prior to the primary, Obama challenged the validity of ballot petition signatures for his opponents, resulting in their exclusion from the ballot and allowing him to run unopposed in the primary.cite news |title=Obama played hardball in first Chicago campaign |url= |publisher=CNN |date=2008-05-29 |accessdate=2008-06-02] Obama won the heavily Democratic 13th district by a large margin. He was easily reelected in 1998, and again in 2002 (after the district was redrawn to span Chicago lakefront neighborhoods from the Gold Coast south to South Chicago). [cite book |author=White, Jesse |year=2005 |chapter=Legislative Districts of Northeastern Illinois, 2001 Reapportionment |chapterurl= |title=Illinois Blue Book 2005–2006 |location=Springfield |publisher=Illinois Secretary of State |pages=p. 64]

Early Senate career

Early in his first term, the just-retired U.S. Senator Paul Simon 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 pass a sweeping law that banned most gifts from lobbyists and personal use of campaign funds by state legislators.Becker, Jo and Drew, Christopher, [ "Pragmatic Politics, Forged on the South Side"] , "The New York Times", May 11, 2008, retrieved July 28, 2008]

During his first years as a state senator, Obama was a co-sponsor of a bill which re-structured the Illinois welfare program into the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. He was also involved in various pieces of legislation which 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. [cite news | url= | title=Highlights of Obama's Strong Record of Accomplishment in the U.S. and Illinois Senate | accessdate=2008-09-11 | work=Know the Facts]

Campaign for Bobby Rush's congressional seat

In 2000, Obama made a Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat held by four-term incumbent candidate Bobby Rush. Rush had been badly defeated in the February 1999 Chicago Mayoral election by Richard M. Daley and was thought to be vulnerable.cite news |publisher=The Chicago Reader| date=2000-03-17 |accessdate=2008-07-26| url= |title=Is Bobby Rush in Trouble?] In 1999, Obama asked his friend and mentor, Newton Minow to help him raise funds for the race, and Minow complied, but the fund-raising effort bombed. (Minow later said he asked Obama if he was "nuts" to challenge Rush.)

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. [Federal Election Commission, [ 2000 U.S. House of Representatives Results] . See also: cite web|url=|title=Obama's Loss May Have Aided White House Bid and cite news | first=Janny | last=Scott | title=A Streetwise Veteran Schooled Young Obama | date=September 9 2007 | url= | work=The New York Times | accessdate=2008-04-20] cite news | first=Edward | last=McClelland | title=How Obama Learned to Be a Natural | date=February 12 2007 | url= | work =Salon | accessdate=2008-04-20 See also: cite news | first=Richard | last=Wolffe | coauthors= Daren Briscoe | title=Across the Divide | date=July 16 2007 | publisher=MSNBC | url= | work=Newsweek | accessdate=2008-04-20 cite news | first=Scott | last=Helman | title=Early Defeat Launched a Rapid Political Climb | date=October 12 2007 | url= | work=Boston Globe | accessdate=2008-04-20 and cite web|url=|title=Obama learned from failed Congress run]

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a controversial but influential Catholic priest, was one of the few South Side clergymen to support Obama in the race. After Obama lost, he sponsored a $100,000 earmark to help finance a youth center associated with Pfleger's church. The program was one of many worthy efforts Pfleger's church was organizing, according to Obama's 2008 presidential campaign organization.

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. State Senator Donne E. 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".

Obama became chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee in January 2003. The new Democratic majority allowed Obama to write and 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. [cite news | url= | title=Highlights of Obama's Strong Record of Accomplishment in the U.S. and Illinois Senate | accessdate=2008-09-11 | work=Know the Facts] 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. [cite news | first=Charles | last=Peters | title=Judge Him By His Laws | date=January 4, 2008 | url= | work=The Washington Post | accessdate=2008-09-11] 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 by requiring police to record the race of drivers they stopped.cite news | first=Janny | last=Scott | title=In Illinois, Obama Proved Pragmatic and Shrewd | date=July 30 2007 | url= | work=New York Times | accessdate=2008-01-14 See also: cite news | first=Rick | last=Pearson | coauthors=Ray Long | title=Careful Steps, Looking Ahead | date=May 3 2007 | url=,1,7439904.story | work=Chicago Tribune | accessdate=2008-01-14]

2002 anti-war rally speech

In 2002, Obama delivered a speech at a Chicago anti-war rally in which he opposed the impending invasion of Iraq. By early 2008, as a "New York Times" article put it, the speech had "helped define him nationally". At one point, Obama stated, "I’m not opposed to all wars." Obama, who was already considering a run for federal office, had discussed the phrase with his political advisers, and with an eye on how the speech might be viewed in a future campaign.

2004 campaign for U.S. Senate

During his 2004 general election campaign for U.S. Senate, he won the endorsement of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, whose president credited Obama for his active engagement with police organizations in enacting death penalty reforms. [cite news | first=Sam | last=Youngman | coauthors= and Aaron Blake | title=Obama’s Crime Votes Are Fodder for Rivals | date=March 14 2007 | url= | work=The Hill | accessdate=2008-01-14 See also: cite news | title=US Presidential Candidate Obama Cites Work on State Death Penalty Reforms | date=November 12 2007 | publisher=International Herald Tribune | url= | work=Associated Press | accessdate=2008-01-14] He was criticized by rival pro-choice candidates in the Democratic primary and by his Republican pro-life opponent in the general election for a series of "present" votes on late-term abortion and parental notification issues.cite news | first=Eric | last=Zorn | title=Disparagement of Obama Votes Doesn't Hold Up | archiveurl= | archivedate=2007-12-04 | date=March 9 2004 | url= | work=Chicago Tribune | accessdate=2008-01-14 cite news | title=Keyes Assails Obama's Abortion Views | date=August 9 2004 | publisher=MSNBC | url= | work=Associated Press | accessdate=2008-01-14 See also: cite news | first=Sam | last=Youngman | title=Abortion Foes Target Obama Because of His Vote Record on Illinois Legislation | date=February 15 2007 | url= | work=The Hill | accessdate=2008-01-14] The charge that Obama's "present" votes suggested he was not firmly pro-choice was refuted by two lobbyists for pro-choice groups (including Planned Parenthood). He resigned from the Illinois Senate in November 2004 following his election to the U.S. Senate. [cite news |url= |title=13th District: Barack Obama | format=archive | accessdate=2008-01-14 | date=August 24 2000 | work=Illinois State Senate Democrats | archiveurl= |archivedate=2000-08-24 cite news | url= | title=13th District: Barack Obama | format=archive | accessdate=2008-01-14 |date=October 9 2004 |work=Illinois State Senate Democrats | archiveurl= | archivedate=2004-10-09 cite news | first=Jodi S | last=Cohen | title=Obama's Springfield Seat Goes to Lawyer | date=November 7 2004 | url= | format=paid archive | work=Chicago Tribune | accessdate=2008-01-14]


Further reading

*Curry, Jessica. " [ Barack Obama: Under the Lights] ", "Chicago Life", Fall 2004. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.
*Graff, Garrett. " [ The Legend of Barack Obama] ", "Washingtonian", November 1 2006. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.
*Lizza, Ryan. " [ Above the Fray] ", "GQ", September 2007. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.
*MacFarquhar, Larissa. " [ The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama Coming From?] ", "New Yorker", May 7 2007. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.
*Mundy, Liza. " [ A Series of Fortunate Events] ", "Washington Post Magazine", August 12 2007. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.
*Wallace-Wells, Ben. " [ Destiny's Child] ", "Rolling Stone", February 7 2007. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.
*Zutter, Hank De. " [ What Makes Obama Run?] ", "Chicago Reader", December 8 1995. Retrieved on 2008-01-14.

External links

* [ Obama '08—] (includes links to other official Obama campaign sites)
* [ Chicago Tribune candidate coverage and biography] (includes several stories about his time in state senate)

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