An Illinois senator seeking a U.S. congressional seat is forging ahead despite the setback and fallout from a recent gun charge.
Illinois State Senator, Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) appeared in court on Dec. 12 regarding the felony weapons charge brought against him after he allegedly tried to board an airplane at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Dec. 5, with a .25-caliber handgun and ammunition concealed in a carryon bag.
Trotter, 62, was charged with a Class 4 felony which carries a sentence of one to three years in prison if convicted.
Though Trotter remained hopeful for a positive outcome, the proceedings did not go as he and his attorney had hoped because the case was continued until Jan. 17.
“The case was continued at the state’s attorney’s (Anita Alvarez’s) request,” said Trotter’s attorney Thomas Durkin. “We were hoping to have a preliminary hearing. We believe we would have prevailed.”
Durkin said he feels that the state’s attorney continued the case as a way to avoid a hearing.
“The state’s attorney is seeking an indictment from a state grand jury,” said Durkin.
Tandra Simonton, spokesperson for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said comments are not provided on pending cases but confirmed the case was continued.
Trotter allegedly told airport security that he was not aware that the weapon he uses for work as a security officer at AllPoints Security was in the bag when he packed for his flight that Wednesday morning.
AllPoints Security has allegedly been paid more than $350,000 as a subcontractor on a City of Chicago security deal and is represented by a politically powerful lobbying firm run by a onetime top aide to former Mayor Richard M. Daley, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.
Trotter’s arrest raises questions about his political future as well as the nature of his work for the company.
“This will handicap him because everywhere he goes he will be asked why he was carrying a loaded gun onto an airline,” said Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman and a political scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. According to Simpson, until Trotter’s arrest, he was one of the stronger candidates in a very crowded race.
Despite the turn of events, Durkin said Trotter’s spirits remain high as he pushes forward.
Trotter, who served in the Illinois House from 1988 to 1993 and since then, the Illinois Senate, is among the long list of candidates vying for Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.’s vacated 2nd Congressional seat.
Trotter has been quoted as saying that he intends to stay in the race and will continue to campaign.
He attended a special meeting on Dec. 15 anchored by Thornton Township Committeemen and Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Slating Committee, Frank M. Zuccarelli, at South Suburban College, 15800 S. State Street, South Holland, for the purpose of slating and then nominating a democratic candidate to run for representative of the 2nd Congressional District in the Democratic Primary election next year. The slate-making process included candidate presentations and speeches. However the meeting did not yield a census candidate therefore an open election will be held for all qualifying candidates on February 26, 2013.
Other Democrats running for the open seat include Illinois State Senator Toi Hutchison; Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly; former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson; Chicago 9th Ward Alderman Anthony Beale; Chicago Pastor Anthony Williams; and State Senator-elect Napoleon Harris, a former NFL linebacker and former congressman Mel Reynolds. Lenny McAllister, a pundit and former Chicago radio show host, is so far the only Republican in the race.
By Deborah Bayliss
The Associated Press contributed to this story.