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Brown: Baby T steps into political spotlight at DNC

Ald. Ed Burke and Travis Burke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. | Mark Brown/Sun-Times

PHILADELPHIA — Another generation of the Burke family is making his first baby steps into politics at the Democratic National Convention.

Travis Burke, the adopted son of Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, is a Hillary Clinton delegate.

Burke, 20, is probably best known to Sun-Times readers as “Baby T,” as he was named during a contentious court proceeding when his birth mother fought the Burkes over legal guardianship.

But as the accompanying photo shows, the youngest member of the Burke family is no longer a baby and his presence here begs the question of whether he might be the first of the Burke’s five children to have political aspirations.

“That’s to be continued,” a poised Travis Burke said Monday after the initial breakfast meeting of the Illinois delegation, where he stuck close to the side of his powerful father, longtime chairman of the City Council Finance Committee.

It was obvious from listening to him talk, however, that he’s caught the bug, and dad didn’t deny that he’s encouraging him. Burke has been 14th Ward alderman since 1969 when he replaced his father. His brother Dan is a state representative.

“It’s not something you can do unless you really have the desire, so we’ll see,” the alderman said. “Time will tell.”

Both father and son stressed he is just going into his third year at DePaul.

The alderman said his son was appointed to be a delegate after his own bid was rejected by Democratic Party officials because the Illinois delegation had not met its diversity goals.

“I told the folks from the delegate selection committee that I had a good Irish African-American for them,” the alderman said.

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This is not Travis Burke’s first convention. He also attended party conventions in Boston in 2004 and Denver in 2008, when he was 8 and 12, respectively.

He talked a little like an old hand (or somebody who listens to his father), as he explained why young voters disappointed over Bernie Sanders’ defeat should not lose heart.

“A lot of young people think that things should just happen fast. They want everything fast,” he said.

“Well, it’s not all that simple. You know you have to have patience, and you know, just keep on educating about the political things and how politics work.”

The younger Burke was disappointed to learn he isn’t the youngest member of the Illinois delegation.

I’m obviously handling this with kid gloves (pun intended).

The alderman and I have our differences, but I certainly don’t intend to visit the sins of the father on the son.

If he goes deeper into politics, he’ll have plenty of opportunity to commit some of his own.