David Hoffman Is a Long Shot for Senate

City IG's strange senate bid

By Steve Rhodes
|  Wednesday, Sep 9, 2009  |  Updated 1:27 PM CDT
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Chicago's Political Players

David Hoffman for Senate

Hoffman is in the senate race.

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David Hoffman's announcement on Wednesday that he was entering the U.S. Senate race seemed exciting at first. The corruption-busting former federal prosecutor that gave Mayor Daley fits as the city's inspector general seemed like he would be an intriguing candidate.

But that excitement was more a result of the surprise. Upon further reflection, it's hard to see what Hoffman is doing in this race.

Veteran political journalist Lynn Sweet correctly described Hoffman in her instant analysis as a "political neophyte" and "a massively untested figure."

In another story, the Sun-Times says "Hoffman may not be such a long-shot candidate," which signifies that he is.

Hoffman told AP that he was motivated in part by the frustration expressed by some of his fellow members on a state reform commission that the same people always run for office.

"It's time for people who have not been in politics to say 'I'm ready to jump in,'" he said.

Yes, but right into the United States Senate?

In fact, Hoffman had been thinking about running for state attorney general until Lisa Madigan decided to stay in that post instead of run for the Senate - or the governorship - herself.

Even Hoffman's political and media strategists - David Axelrod's old firm - had hitched their wagon to Chris Kennedy until Kennedy bailed.

It might make more sense - and serve the public better - for Hoffman to run for alderman and help lead the charge for reform and accountabiilty from City Hall from there. Or run for mayor himself.

It's true that the field for the Senate looks surprisingly weak. (Don't even think about it, Roland.)

"Am I losing my memory," Gregory Tejada writes at the Chicago Argus, "or was there once a time when we political observers who are Illinois-oriented were talking about how our state’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2010 could wind up being a fight between a Kennedy, a Jackson, and maybe even a Madigan?"

Now it's a Giannoulias, a Hoffman and a different Jackson.

"Divine Providence may be shining down on [Cheryle] Jackson," Laura Washington wrote after Hoffman's announcement.

Now she can run against two white males - for the seat currently held by the only African American member of the U.S. Senate and previously held by Barack Obama and Carol Moseley-Braun.

Hoffman has done admirable work as the city's inspector general. He's been one of the good guys, without a doubt.

And he'll be about to promote himself as a true reformer and tout concrete actions he's taken that the other candidates haven't. He may do particularly well in that regard in the debates. What have you done to challenge the status quo, Alexi? Cheryle?

Really it's not clear what any of these three are doing in this race, besides chasing their own ambition. But Hoffman looks to have the toughest road. And maybe we need him more here at home.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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