Democrats pick their man to take down state Rep. Derrick Smith
Lance Tyson, Todd Stroger’s former chief of staff, set to run as third-party candidate
05/24/2012 6:57 PM
Chicago’s leading Democrats are ready to take on their disgraced former colleague Derrick Smith, the state rep who won a primary despite being arrested for accepting a bribe a week before the election.
On Thursday, a panel of influential politicians picked Lance Tyson, former chief of staff to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger and a lawyer.
But Tyson won’t be running as a Democrat — he’ll be running as a third-party candidate under the banner of the 10th District Unity Party.
That’s because Democrats couldn’t convince Smith to resign after helping him win his primary battle against Tom Swiss, a former head of the Chicago Republican Party. Democrats said they wanted to make sure the seat stayed in Democratic hands.
But when Smith said he wouldn’t resign after winning the election, and proclaimed his innocence, politicians said they couldn’t let Smith win and decided to back a new candidate.
The decision was made by a group of Democratic committeemen led by Secretary of State Jesse White and Ald. Jason Ervin. Tyson was picked from a group of three finalists who included Chicago police officer and Homeowners of Westtown head Eddie Winters, and Ervin’s girlfriend, insurance manager Melissa Conyears.
“This will not be an easy campaign,” White said after announcing the decision. “We want to make sure you hit the ground running.”
Tyson needs to get 1,500 signatures in order to get on the ballot. He said he’s ready to do that, get out and let people know why they should vote for him. It’ll be an uphill battle getting people to vote for him instead of just voting straight-ticket Democratic.
“I think the first move is massive education, and what that will require for me is hitting the streets,” he said Thursday. “That’s what I plan to do, is to hit every single precinct up in the 10th legislative district, and knock on as many doors as possible that’ll let me in and tell my story — let them know that they, in fact, have a choice.”