President Obama Makes Endorsement In Chicago Alderman Race

Sophia King chats with Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th, at the conclusion of a rules committee meeting held at Chicago City Council chambers at City Hall in Chicago on April 12, 2016. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

Former President Barack Obama on Monday got involved in Chicago ward politics by endorsing Ald. Sophia King, 4th, in next month’s special election.

The endorsement from the former leader of the free world came just 10 days after Obama’s last day in office. And it comes as King is about to enter the final month of campaigning for the Feb. 28 election.

King, appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in April after the resignation of Will Burns, is being challenged by three attorneys — Ebony Lucas, Gerald Scott McCarthy and Marcellus Moore Jr. — as well as activist Gregory Seal Livingston. The winner will serve out the remaining two years of the term of Burns, who now works for Airbnb.

“Michelle and I have known Sophia many years as a leader dedicated to improving her community,” Obama said in a statement released Monday by King’s campaign. “Over the years, Sophia has worked to make neighborhood schools and communities better. Sophia is the type of leader Chicago and the 4th Ward need.”

The Obamas’ Kenwood home is in the 4th Ward, and King and her husband, Alan King, are friends of the Obamas.

It’s not the first time Obama has gotten involved in local politics in the past year. In March, he endorsed Juliana Stratton over then-Illinois Rep. Ken Dunkin of Chicago in last year’s Democratic primary. In that state legislative race, Obama cut a TV ad for Stratton, who went on to win the primary and the general election.

King not only has the endorsement of Obama, who is highly popular on the South Side, but also a strong advantage in fundraising, according to recent campaign finance reports.

SOURCE: Chicago Tribune – Hal Dardick