Disunity as Democrats pick challenger to indicted state Rep. Derrick Smith

May 23, 2012

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West Side Chicago political leaders have picked a candidate to run against their fellow Democrat, indicted state Rep. Derrick Smith. But a split decision poses risks if divisions aren't healed by November.

To unseat Smith, Democratic committeemen got together to run a third party candidate.

"We've asked [Smith] to step down. He has refused to do that," said Secretary of State Jesse White, the 27th Ward Democratic committeeman. "We've asked him to take his name off the ballot. He has refused to do that as well. So this is 'Plan C.'"

White said Plan C is Lance Tyson, a lawyer and former top aide to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. Tyson was selected Wednesday afternoon, after a second day of public interviews followed by closed-door deliberations.

Tyson said his first job is to educate voters and knock on doors.

"And tell my story and let them know that they in fact have a choice, and that I'm here to at least provide them with that choice," Tyson said.

Tyson will run as a candidate of the newly formed 10th District Unity Party. But the unity is elusive. Only five of the nine Democratic committeemen supported Tyson.

Ald. Jason Ervin, committeeman of the 28th Ward, backed another applicant, but that was derailed after it became known he was romantically involved with her.

Ervin said he doesn't know if his political organization will support Tyson, who currently lives outside the district boundaries. Tyson said he expects to move "shortly."