Illinoisans gather for Durbin party

January 19, 2009 3:23:16 PM PST
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin hosted a breakfast for Illinoisans in Washington Monday morning.For those of us who have been watching Barack Obama's political career from the beginning in the Senate, that ill-fated run for Congress in 2000, the successful race in 2004, then hitting it out of the park at the Democratic convention in Boston that year, then the incredible race to make history and win the White House, it's been quite a trip.

But we've been on the outside looking in. Imagine how it's been for close insiders like Dick Durbin, people who were there when no one else was.

"I say to people, I was the first senator to endorse Barack. For one year I was the only senator who endorsed Barack. Where were my colleagues?" said Sen. Dick Durbin, (D) Illinois.

Senator Durbin may have been a lonely political leader on that frigid day in Springfield, Illinois, where it all began nearly two years ago, but Monday, on the eve of this historic inauguration, the streets around the Capitol in Washington, D.C. are teeming with hundreds of thousands of people braving incredibly long lines and very heavy security to get their credentials.

One-thousand people with Illinois connections filled the hall in the Library of Congress for a reception hosted by Durbin that also served as a coming-out party for the new junior senator, Roland Burris, who is trying to turn this into a new career.

"I am seeking to join our senior senator to make sure that what we need at home will be coming back to our community," said Sen. Roland Burris, (D) Illinois.

"You could go get a baby sitter--it's much more relevant to have my daughter here so she can witness history in person," said Yvette Morrison, former Illinois resident.

"The capital is filled with hope and excitement that Barack Obama can eventually nurse the sick economy back to health," said Christie Hefner, former Playboy CEO.

"The magnitude of the challenges particularly in the economy are going to allow for more transformational change than would have been possible if things were going smooth," said Bill Marovitz, (D) former state senator.