CHICAGO — Saying he's the only candidate who can bridge Kankakee and Will County Republicans with the African-American community on the South Side, conservative pundit Lenny McAllister entered the race on Monday to replace Jesse Jackson Jr.
At this time, McAllister is running unopposed in the Republican Primary on Feb. 26.
The district was redrawn to neutralize downstate Republicans, with the highest concentration of voters being on the South Side and in the south suburbs, both Democratic strongholds.
But with several candidates already announced in the Democratic Primary — including Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields), state Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), state Sen.-elect Napoleon Harris (D-Flossmoor), Cook County administrator Robin Kelly of Matteson and former members of Congress Mel Reynolds of Dolton and Debbie Halvorson of Crete — McAllister said he hoped to skirt that blood bath and win in a two-person general election April 9.
"There's only one candidate in this race that can touch Kankakee and Will County, but also advocate for and connect with the people of the South Side of Chicago," McAllister said. "There hasn't been a Republican who's been able to do all those things effectively."
McAllister is known for offering conservative commentary on a variety of TV and radio outlets, and he calls himself the "working man's conservative."
Yet, his top issues — domestic-violence laws and voter-identification restrictions — are relatively progressive. He targeted economics and education as key urban issues in the 2nd District, advocating free-market development and charter schools, not as a cure-all, but as part of "a diversity of educational opportunities," alongside public, parochial and private schools.
"I'm absolutely in favor of vouchers," he added. "Vouchers are not supposed to eliminate public education. They're supposed to supplement the current system that's already broken."
McAllister also supports the proposed Peotone airport as an economic engine to "self-perpetuating prosperity."
He decries the methods of the Tea Party and says he wants to push forward a bipartisan approach under his campaign slogan, "One Big Team."
"I believe that, with the right message and the right kind of leadership, the impossible can happen, and that's what we're going with," McAllister said.