U of C candidates net Super Tuesday wins

By Mischa Fierer

[img id=”80295″ align=”alignleft”] Students, neighborhood residents, and one former law lecturer with his sights set on the White House turned out across the South Side to cast their primary ballots in Tuesday’s statewide primary. Senator Barack Obama, voting in his home district in Kenwood Tuesday afternoon, secured 91.24 percent of the Democratic vote in Chicago fifth city ward, which encompasses the U of C campus, while University alumnus Barbara Flynn Currie (B.A. ’68, M.A. ’73) and William Burns (B.A ’95, M.A. ’98) also won major victories on Super Tuesday. Currie was renominated as state representative for the 25th District, which includes Hyde Park. Burns won a close primary vcitory for the 26th District, northeast of Hyde Park.

Obama voted around 2 p.m. at Beulah Shoesmith Elementary on East 50th Street. Some residents rose as early as 6 a.m. and waited in the snow hoping to see the senator, who arrived in a black SUV, flanked by several secret service agents. He was met by a crowd of about 60, including shivering reporters from places as far as Tokyo and Paris.

“I haven’t been this excited for a vote since college” said Lisa Kohn, a local resident hoping to get Obama to sign a copy of her book.

It was quiet inside while Obama shook several people’s hands, voted, and answered questions from reporters, at one point joking about the difficulty with which he came to ultimately decide to vote for himself.

Several South Side residents said that choosing between Obama and New York senator Hillary Clinton was difficult.

“A black and a woman, hallelujah,” said Kenwood resident Gladys Marie Hill, after voting Tuesday afternoon.

Within the fifth ward, voters showed stronger support for Clinton near campus than in the areas north and south of the University. Obama won 97.21 percent of the vote in the precinct near 76th Street and South Harper Avenue, while Clinton won 20 percent of the vote in the precinct near South Ellis Avenue and East 57th Street.

Only 307 people voted for Republican candidates in the fifth ward, with 88 of the 310 Republican voters in five of the precincts near the U of C and the rest spread across 50 other precincts. Most fifth-ward Republicans voted for likely GOP nominee John McCain.

Burns won a close victory over Kenny Johnson, with 33.11 percent to Johnson’s 27.91 percent in 26th-district state-representative elections.

“I think he’s a fine young man,” said Burns supporter Warner E. Nero of his favored candidate on Tuesday.

Nero worked for 34 years as an employee of the Regenstein Library. She said that Burns had recognized her at a campaign event that she had attended.

“He likes what he’s doing,” she said.

In the 25th ward, which includes the U of C, incumbent Barbara Flynn Currie, who has held the seat for more than 30 years, was renominated with 83.38 percent, beating challenger Sharon Latiker’s 16.62 percent.

Tuesday evening, over 60 students gathered at an election results party co-sponsored by the University of Chicago Democrats (UC Dems) and University of Chicago College Republicans at Hallowed Grounds coffee shop in the Reynolds Club. Many joked that the event boasted a larger student turnout than those usually seen at U of C sporting events.

“If Hillary wins, I’ll vote for her,” said third-year Colleen Christensen. “But if Obama wins, I’ll actually campaign for him,” she added.

Many Clinton supporters also attended the party, including UC Dems leader Hollie Russon-Gilman. Russon-Gilman said that she ran into U of C president Robert Zimmer when she went to vote at a local polling station.

“I love voting,” Zimmer told Russon-Gilman during the brief encounter, she said.

Joe Dozier, who leads the College Republicans, will also be supporting Hillary in the upcoming Texas primaries. He said he plans to vote for Clinton because he projects that a Republican candidate will have an easier time beating her than Obama.

“The way students approach issues is pragmatic,” Dozier said.

“The stakes are so high,” Russon-Gilman said.