State Sen. Toi Hutchinson running for Jackson’s seat — vs. friend and former boss
BY NATASHA KORECKI Sun-Times Media December 4, 2012 9:48AM
State Sen. Toi Hutchinson. File photo. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 5, 2013 6:26AM
Three bright, accomplished women with legislative backgrounds are embarking on a new, complicated relationship.
State Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields, former state Rep. Robin Kelly of Matteson and former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson of Crete emerged from the same political family tree, having crossed paths as they cut their political teeth in the south suburbs.
Now, all three women want Jesse Jackson Jr.’s former seat in the 2nd Congressional District.
Hutchinson announced her candidacy in Chicago Heights on Monday, which means she’s running against Kelly, whom she calls “a dear friend,” as well as her former boss, another friend, Halvorson.
“This is one of those situations where it’s a family fight,” Hutchinson said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times on Monday. “We’ll put the family back together again once this is all over.”
Hutchinson admits that she put her name in without first telling Halvorson. Hutchinson was appointed to Halvorson’s Illinois Senate seat in 2009 after Halvorson was elected to the U.S. House for a two-year stint.
Kelly on Monday called Hutchinson’s decision to run “a little disappointing.”
“She was one of the people who talked to me about running,” Kelly said. “She has a right. Everyone has a right to run. I’m not mad at her. It was a little disappointing but you know, I’m not like: ‘I’m not your friend anymore.’ We’ve worked together in the past.”
Hutchinson worked as Halvorson’s chief of staff when Halvorson served in Springfield.
It’s clear that Hutchinson, 39, may be sensitive to those who think she is leapfrogging over Kelly, 56, and Halvorson.
“A lot of people would say: ‘Wait your turn,’” Hutchinson said. “I believe that if you are doing it for the right reasons, and you put your best foot forward and you campaign hard and you tell your story and you get other people to tell me their stories, everything will be fine. Everything will work out. It’s what you do when you decide to step into the arena. It’s not easy. Sometimes you, you know, it’s not easy.”
But Hutchinson has bigger plans, indeed. She announced her candidacy at a health-care facility in Chicago Heights with a cadre of supporters around her.
They join an ever-growing field of contenders who want to compete in the Feb. 26 Democratic primary after Jackson Jr. announced his resignation last month. On Tuesday, attorney Anne Marie Miles is to announce she’s joining the race.
As the field of candidates expands, it’s clear they are splintering support from the south suburban and Cook County power base. Rich Township Democratic Committeeman Tim Bradford, for instance, has thrown his support behind Kelly, according to the Kelly campaign. Thornton Township Committeman Frank Zuccarrelli has told the Chicago Sun-Times he’ll put his support behind state Sen. Donne Trotter.
State Rep. Al Riley threw his support behind Hutchinson. Halvorson, meanwhile, has touted that she won the portions of the 2nd Congressional District in Will and Kankakee counties by a 3-2 ratio over Jackson Jr. when she made an unsuccessful attempt to unseat him.