Archive Dive: The 2004 Senate primary was the reality show of the year | Feature | Chicago Reader

Archive Dive: The 2004 Senate primary was the reality show of the year 

A look back at a crowded race full of candidates who didn't come to make friends.

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click to enlarge Gery Chico - LLOYD LEE
  • Gery Chico
  • Lloyd Lee

Long before throwing his hat in the ring in a second attempt to become mayor of Chicago, Gery Chico entered a similarly crowded race to take over Peter Fitzgerald's U.S. Senate seat way back in the aughts. Chico was facing off against 14 other candidates, including financial CEO Blair Hull, septuagenarian broker Norm Hill, and young go-getter Barack Obama. Several staffers came together to create "The Reader's Guide to the 2004 Illinois Senate Primary," outlining each candidate's background, hobbies, liabilities, strengths, and more.

At times the details read like bios for contestants on The Bachelor: "Hobbies: Watching old musicals (including The Sound of Music and South Pacific), travel, reading about history, studying astrophysics with a view to making space travel accessible to more people, tennis, 'looking for a wife.'"

Some details are a little more . . . explicit.
Liabilities: Didn't register to vote between 1965 and 1995, and only voted in 6 of last 12 elections. And then there's Brenda Sexton. Voters who think U.S. senators should learn from their mistakes will wonder why Hull married her twice. The unsealed records from their second divorce are bad enough: she claims he called her a "bitch" and a "cunt," threatened to kill her, and punched her in the shin. She phoned the cops, but told them she'd kicked him first. But if Hull survives this embarrassment there's worse to come. Unlike Hull's Democratic opponents, who'll hesitate to implicate Blagojevich in any funny business, Republicans will happily ask whether Hull was trying to buy Sexton's silence.
Say what you will, Chicago politics is certainly never boring. v

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