Illinois State Senate Leader & “Kingmaker” Emil Jones


Is this a proud pathway?

Obama’s second problem is his most important patron in Illinois politics: his “kingmaker,” Illinois State Senate Leader Emil Jones. Jones engineered Obama’s rise in state politics and into the U.S. Senate, and their relationship offers insights into the unflattering political realities that accompanied Obama’s climb from obscurity:

Obama\'s kingmaker Emil Jones

Illinois State Senate Leader Emil Jones: Obama’s Kingmaker

Jones helped Obama by assigning high profile legislation to the candidate, thus filling out his thin record as a state senator. Most of Obama’s “accomplshments” in Springfield were created by Jones. He showered Obama with prominent roles in getting legislation through the senate. In almost every case, the legislation was the work of Obama’s senate colleagues. Jones simply stripped their name from the work and added Obama’s. In some cases this included legislation that was written, introduced and passionately championed for years by other lawmakers. Is that a record to be proud of?

At one point during Obama’s 2003 Senate campaign, Jones set out to woo two African-American politicians miffed by Obama’s presumption and ambition. One of them, a state senator, had scoffed that Obama was “so ambitious he would run for “king of the world” if the position were vacant.” Jones got the two men’s support. When Obama asked him how, Jones said “I made them an offer, and you don’t want to know.”

Jones sought to unify black Chicago behind Obama in February 2007 when he told black a large gathering of black Democrats they don’t “owe” anyone, alluding to, but not mentioning by name, Bill and Hillary Clinton. “Obama is our son,” said Jones.

Jones is the sort of “old-fashioned, wheeler-dealer” and relic of the Cook County Democratic machine. He is known to employ all the “old politics” that Obama denounces. His latest controversy is over his attempt to block legislation aimed to end his state’s “pay-to-play” tradition – where people wanting government contracts contribute to politician’s.

Obama supporters see the alliance as an example of his ability to get things done by working with all kinds of people. Critics see it as hypocrisy — Obama refusing to speak out against the kinds of abuse he claims to oppose.


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