Obama and Alice Palmer Back in the News
CNN is doing a big segment tonight on how Barack Obama won his first state senate seat by booting Alice Palmer from the ballot. (Article here.)Palmer now supports Hillary Clinton.
Shorter version: How did Obama win his first Senate seat? By challenging his opponents' right to be on the ballot and succeeding, so he could run unopposed.
Palmer served the district in the Illinois Senate for much of the 1990s. Decades earlier, she was working as a community organizer in the area when Obama was growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia. She risked her safe seat to run for Congress and touted Obama as a suitable successor, according to news accounts and interviews.
But when Palmer got clobbered in that November 1995 special congressional race, her supporters asked Obama to fold his campaign so she could easily retain her state Senate seat.
Obama not only refused to step aside, he filed challenges that nullified Palmer's hastily gathered nominating petitions, forcing her to withdraw.
"I liked Alice Palmer a lot. I thought she was a good public servant," Obama said. "It was very awkward. That part of it I wish had played out entirely differently."
He actually got four of his opponents off the ballot that year.
"He wondered if we should knock everybody off the ballot. How would that look?" said Ronald Davis, the paid Obama campaign consultant whom Obama referred to as his "guru of petitions."
In the end, Davis filed objections to all four of Obama's Democratic rivals at the candidate's behest.
[H]e defended his use of ballot maneuvers: "If you can win, you should win and get to work doing the people's business."
The politics of change? A new kind of politics in Washington?
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