In 2010, LeAlan Jones ran a notable US Senate campaign for Barack Obama’s former seat. He started his radio journalism career at age 13 with his piece “Ghetto Life 101,” so he already had considerable name recognition going into it. At one point he polled 14 percent overall and well over 20 percent among his fellow African Americans. However, the election did not turn out in his favor, and he failed to get even close to five percent of the vote. However, after some reflection (and criticism from others on his going straight for the top) revealed in this piece about African American candidates in Illinois, Jones has decided to run for the Illinois state house. It’s unclear whether that will be with the Democrats or the Green Party, although he has said in the past that he would like the Green Party to invest considerably more energy into any future campaign of his.
As smart as Jones is, adds Hartman, he was not smart about running for office. “Why don’t you sit down and think about a strategy?” she asked him. “Why don’t you study Barack Obama? He had a plan. He wasn’t jumping up to run for anything that popped up in front of him. He was running for what he could win. Start with the state Senate, or an aldermanic seat. You don’t walk into a company and say, `I’m an intern, and I’m applying to be President.’”
Jones has accepted her advice. He told me in a telephone conversation Sunday evening that while he doesn’t regret running for the U.S. Senate—he said he got statewide name recognition that would have cost him millions in advertising to replicate—his next race will be for a seat in the Illinois House. He is angling to be appointed to the 26th District seat now occupied by Will Burns, who won the 4th Ward aldermanic race—the seat held by Toni Preckwinkle. Burns will resign his seat on May 16th. The Democratic committeemen—one of them Preckwinkle, now President of the Cook County Board—will decide who serves out the rest of Burns’ term. If Jones doesn’t get the 26th District appointment—he acknowledges “residency issues” since he currently lives in the 31st District—he says he will start planning for 2012. He’ll run in the 31st District against Rep. Mary Flowers, 59, a member of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.