Patricia Watkins, the novice who finished fifth in last month’s mayoral election, may have a political future after all. Watkins, who got 2 percent of the vote against Rahm Emanuel, et. al., is a strong candidate to replace state Rep. Annazette Collins in Springfield.
Collins was recently named to take the seat of retiring state Sen. Rickey Hendon -- a job Watkins herself almost got.
Going into Monday’s meeting to choose Hendon’s successor, Watkins had the support of Illinois Secretary of State and 27th Ward Committeeman Jesse White. In fact, Watkins was one of the original finalists, along with Vetress Boyce, who finished third in the race for 24th Ward alderman.
Boyce had the backing of the first-place finisher, Ald. Sharon Denise Dixon, who was looking to appoint a candidate who could help her in next month’s runoff. But when the committeemen examined Boyce voting record, they found that she had skipped several primaries and had once -- horrors! -- voted Republican.
Dixon controlled the lion’s share of weighted votes. Her second choice was Collins, who represents the West Side in the House of Representatives. So Collins got the job.
Watkins, who lives in the 2nd Ward, will have a better shot at state representative. Jesse White controls the most weighted votes for that seat. Watkins also impressed County Board member and 32nd Ward Committeeman John Fritchey. After Watkins presented her credentials to the committeemen on Monday, Fritchey tweeted, “Impressive presentation by Patricia Watkins. Lot of Springfield experience.”
Watkins successfully lobbied the state legislature to seal the records of Class 4 felons such as drug users and prostitutes, to make it easier for them to find jobs once they got out of jail. Jobs for ex-offenders was an issue Watkins emphasized during her mayoral campaign. She may be in a better position to push for that as a state legislator than as a local official.
“A lot of my issues are state issues,” Watkins said.
We should know within the next week whether the West Side committeemen agree.