Flashback: In 1996, Obama Challenged Signatures To Get All His Primary Opponents Thrown Off the Ballot


Chicago Tribune article published in April 2007 tells the unflattering truth. Tribune reporters David Jackson and Ray Long wrote that rather than winning the race “by leveling the playing field,” Obama won “by clearing it.”

Jackson and Long described the events unfolding in the 13th District of Illinois in the summer of 1995. After then-U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds, a Democrat, was “convicted of sex crimes, a special election was called to fill his congressional seat.” The Illinois state senator at the time, Alice Palmer, decided to run for Reynolds’ seat in Congress.

A special Democratic primary election was then scheduled for March 1996 to fill her Senate seat. And, after speaking with Palmer, Obama joined the race.

In an interview with Jackson and Long for their 2007 article, Palmer admitted that Obama had “asked her whether she wanted to keep her options open and file to run for her state Senate seat as a fallback in case her congressional bid failed.” Palmer told Obama she “wasn’t going to run.”

They also spoke to Obama, who shared what he had said to Palmer at the time.

“Once I announce, and I have started to raise money, and gather supporters, hire staff and opened up an office, signed a lease, then it’s going to be very difficult for me to step down,” he said. “And she gave me repeated assurances that she was in [the congressional race] to stay.”

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