Dems call for Smith resignation -- only after primary win

March 21, 2012 2:53:45 PM PDT
Just a week before the primary election, Derrick Smith was accused of accepting $7,000 in an attempt to steer a state grant. Despite the bribery charges, Smith won his Near West Side district by a huge margin.

The silence from Democrats is deafening. Only within the last two hours did the state rep's political godfather and committeeman - Jesse White - step forward and call for his resignation. That's not exactly a profile in courage considering White and others intentionally waited until after voters cast their ballots.

"What were you thinking?" Tom Swiss, who ran against Smith, said.

Swiss lost and he lost big to the rookie representative. How did it happen? Swiss blames House Speaker and Democratic boss Mike Madigan.

"After the bribery charge everything went haywire and he got a bunch of people to come in and double down and basically make sure he was going to keep the seat," Swiss said.

Democrats from Governor Pat Quinn to Speaker Madigan and Secretary of State Jesse White to the state's top law enforcement official Lisa Madigan were all silent on the Smith campaign. And that silence sent a message.

"You have some voters who you'd like to think knew of the allegations and what's going on and it's astonishing to me they still voted him in," State Rep. Tom Cross, (R) Oswego, said.

"I think the majority of people who voted in this election were machine voters. They are very loyal to the machine. They always vote for the machine candidates and would vote for Atilla the Hun and his brothers," Dick Simpson, UIC political science professor, said.

Representative Smith wasn't at his home or state-financed office when ABC7 stopped by on Wednesday. But our cameras did catch-up with a few of Smith's supporters.

"I voted early. I voted for him before he got arrested," Craig Collins, a Smith supporter, said. "I'm not for sure he's guilty."

"When I need help. He helped me. It's still in the courts, he's not convicted," Amir Baker, Smith supporter, said.

If Smith resigns now, the Democratic committeemen get to pick his replacement.

Swiss, Smith's opponent in this primary, was a Republican who ran as a Democrat, so it appears party leaders prefer residents vote for an allegedly corrupt Democrat rather than a Republican masquerading as a Democrat.