An organizer with ties to a political group that endorsed Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign will finish the term of Attorney General-elect Kwame Raoul in the Illinois Senate, a group of Democrats decided Sunday.
Robert Peters, political director of Reclaim Chicago, landed the appointment during a meeting of the 13th District Democratic Legislative Committee at Toni Preckwinkle’s 4th Ward office in Hyde Park.
Peters, 33, said he was sworn in during the meeting, and he is now set to hold Raoul’s old seat until 2021.
However, Peters told the Sun-Times he plans to campaign for the seat with hopes of winning it outright in 2020. Raoul submitted his resignation letter Wednesday, and it took effect Saturday.
“I plan to run and earn the support of the folks of the 13th District,” Peters said.
Other candidates considered by the Democrats included Adrienne Irmer, Flynn Rush and Kenneth Sawyer.
Reached Sunday evening, Raoul said he wishes Peters “the best of luck.”
Peters told the Sun-Times he was born deaf, with a “massive speech impediment,” to a mother who was addicted to drugs and alcohol. He said his adopted father was a civil rights lawyer and criminal defense attorney, and his adopted mother was a social worker.
“I’m deeply rooted in making sure that people have a good, fair and equitable life, and that this is my home,” Peters said. “This is where I was born and raised.”
Peters also touted his affiliation with Reclaim Chicago, an organization that says on its website it “was quick to endorse Sanders” during his run for president, along with Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and other progressives.
“We agree with Sanders’ analysis each of us must take responsibility for the future of our country by running for office, supporting people who share our values as they run or by fighting for public policies that put power back in the hands of people rather than corporations and wealthy campaign donors,” the group says on its website.
Some 13th District residents gathered outside Preckwinkle’s office before Sunday’s meeting to complain, though, that the district’s senator would be chosen through a back-room deal. They singled out Preckwinkle and Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), and called for a special election.
Jacob Kaplan, executive director of the Cook County Democratic Party, said the process that played out Sunday is laid out in the Illinois constitution — which would need to be amended for a special election to occur.
Among the residents who complained was Hannah Hayes, who said she tried in vain to find out through proper channels how Raoul’s replacement would be selected. The silence that followed left her with the sense that “your voice doesn’t matter and your vote doesn’t matter.”
So, Hayes said she had her own message for her elected representatives: “Do not claim to be a progressive and wear the mantle of a progressive when that is nothing short of hypocrisy.”