CHICAGO — Saying she thinks voters in the 2nd Congressional District want to "turn the page" on a legacy of scandal, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) offered veiled criticism of state Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) and Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) Monday in a news conference at City Hall.
Like Hutchinson, Trotter is a declared candidate in the special election for the congressional seat, but he faces felony charges stemming from allegedly taking an unregistered handgun through O'Hare International Airport security last week. Jackson hasn't ruled out running, but is reportedly under federal investigation in the same corruption case that has embroiled her husband, Jesse Jackson Jr., who resigned the congressional seat last month, shortly after winning re-election.
"I believe it was an accident. I do," Hutchinson said of Trotter's gun charges. "But at the same time we've had three congressmen in a row leave with scandals and legal issues. And I think people are ready to turn the page.
"It's an unfortunate situation. There's a process in place where he's going to have to deal with it," Hutchinson said in contrasting herself with Trotter. "I am seriously concentrating on the needs of the people in this district. And every minute we talk about these other issues, we're not talking about jobs, we're not talking about protecting Medicare and Social Security."
Hutchinson pulled up short of calling for Trotter's withdrawal from the race. "That's a decision he's going to have to make," she said. "I can't make that decision for Sen. Trotter."
Trotter did not return calls for comment.
She also skirted any call for Ald. Sandi Jackson to stay out of the race, although she clearly suggested Jackson would fall victim to the same political distractions. "Right now, I'm concentrating on running the best race I can run," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson called the news conference to address negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" — congressional debate to keep mandatory budget-cutting measures from taking effect, which she said would add $2,000 a year to the average family's taxes, as well as cutting into Medicare, Social Security and other programs including Head Start.
"These are the things that matter to the people of this district," she said. "And we need to have someone who's ready to go and is laserly focused on that. And that's me. That's why I'm in this race.
"I'm eager to be the one who actually goes and joins the fight," Hutchinson said. "We need to send a full team. We don't need to send anyone who's missing."
Other candidates who have announced for the Democratic primary on Feb. 26 include former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson of Crete, state Sen.-elect Napoleon Harris of Flossmoor, Cook County administrator Robin Kelly of Matteson and Chicago Ald. Anthony Beale (9th).