Patricia Van Pelt Watkins ousts Annazette Collins in 5th

Mayoral also-ran credits ‘crack' comment for getting enough recognition to win senate seat

03/21/2012 3:15 PM

By BEN MEYERSON and LA RISA LYNCH
Editor and Contributing Reporter

6 Comments - Add Your Comment


A year and a half ago, there weren’t many people who knew who Patricia Van Pelt Watkins was. When she decided to get into the race to replace Mayor Richard M. Daley, she was an also-ran, an afterthought.

She was running mostly to bring issues to the forefront, but she knew she didn’t have much of a chance of winning.

Then something serendipitous happened: She was accused of being a crack addict by former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.

“After Carol did that, I knew people would know who I was,” she said. “I don’t think it was me running that got me there. I think it was her comment that got my name in people’s mouths.”

That incident catapulted her from also-ran status to a viable candidate for the 5th District state senate seat, which she wrested from Annazette Collins on Tuesday night after a long, bitter campaign, 54 percent to 46 percent.

“This is the dawning of a new day for people to hope and dream that things can be better than they are now,” Watkins told a crowd of supporters gathered at the Billy Goat, 1535 W. Madison St. “We started this race back in September 2010 and never stopped. … Somebody needs to carry the voice of the people back into government.”

Meanwhile, Collins was a no-show at her election night headquarters. A small contingent of supporters gathered at Sawtooth restaurant, 1350 W. Randolph St. The mood was subdued as supporters watched election results trickle in on their smartphones. At 10 p.m., Collins was stuck at 46 percent of the votes cast when Van Pelt Watkins claimed victory.

Collins’ husband, Keith Langston, spoke on her behalf and offered congratulations to Van Pelt Watkins.

“I think she is probably excited, as she probably has put a lot of work in to claim her victory and we did as well. We would like to say congratulations to her and her camp,” Langston said. He said Collins was not accepting defeat, but admitted that making up the deficiency in votes “is going to be an up hill battle at this point.”

When asked if losing Secretary of State Jesse White’s support contributed to the election outcome, Langston said he didn’t think so. Instead Langston, blamed low-voter turnout. According to the Chicago Board of Elections, only 308,063 registered city voters out of 1.2 million went to the polls Tuesday.

“With the voter outcome being very low, I think that ultimately impacted us and probably helped [Van Pelt Watkins],” he said.

Collins has been dogged by questions surrounding her residency. She claimed a homeowner’s tax exemption for a Woodlawn condo. She also faced criticism over concerns that she allegedly awarded legislative scholarships to students outside of her district. Those concerns caused White, a longtime supporter of Collins, to back her political rival, Watkins. White was instrumental in appointing Collins to replace state Sen. Rickey Hendon when he quit the 5th District post last year.

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By about time from West side
Posted: 03/23/2012 2:22 AM

Well let us see what Van Pelt does. Collins appears to be arrogant and cocky and is so caught up in the agony of defeat that she didn't even have the decency to show up and thank her supporters. I'm glad that VanPelt defeated her. She didn't do anything anyway but talk about juvenile justice and served her own interests rather than the people.



By Transparent Politics from West Loop
Posted: 03/23/2012 0:47 AM

Its crazy how the A. Collins supporters refuse to give Ms. Watkins a fair chance. She has been wrung thru the ringer by her mayoral and senatorial opponents looking for dirt and has came up spotless! At the end of the day we need to take in account she is still a Young, Educated, Single Black Woman who has braved these Chicago streets and risen to shine! Furthermore we should pay attention to the FACT that A. Collins still hasn't called Ms. Watkins to Congratulate her... Now that's CLASSLESS!!!



By follows own drummer from Near West Side
Posted: 03/21/2012 8:26 PM

"in the present she was a wonderful senator". Shouldn't that be IS a wonderful Senator. Hmmmm.....maybe that school should have closed. I'm not thrilled with Van Pelt Watkins and I think this city needs more than one party. The west side needs to get shaken up a bit. Too much of the corrupt old guard. Seriously, if the candidates put forth for all the west side races are the best of the west side, there is trouble in river city.



By West Sider from West Town
Posted: 03/21/2012 7:21 PM

I\'ve had a chance to work with and meet Senator Collins. She was a wonderful help and support when our school faced closure. No matter what happened in the past, in the present she was a wonderful Senator and true advocate for the Citizens of the west side. As a Chicagoan, I am not pleased with Van Pelt Watkins as she kicked off a great deal of bashing. I prefer discussing the issues and she failed at that. I would prefer a republican at this point over her anyday.



By Chelle7822
Posted: 03/21/2012 4:25 PM

Annazette did you really award scholarships outside the district, whcn I so need one or a partial of one for my child? Your office had me send unnecessary amounts of verification to receive absolutely nothing. I got my child off to school anyway and hope you now see that what you did was wrong. Good luck.



By Chelle7822
Posted: 03/21/2012 4:25 PM

Annazette did you really award scholarships outside the district, whcn I so need one or a partial of one for my child? Your office had me send unnecessary amounts of verification to receive absolutely nothing. I got my child off to school anyway and hope you now see that what you did was wrong. Good luck.