By Jayette Bolinski | Illinois Watchdog
CHICAGO — West-side Chicagoans overwhelmingly voted to send indicted and expelled state Rep. Derrick Smith, a Democrat, back to his seat in the Illinois House, according to preliminary vote tallies Tuesday night.
Unofficial results, with 78 percent of the precincts reporting, had Smith leading his challenger, Lance Tyson, also a Democrat with Democratic backing who ran under the “Unity Party” banner because Smith had won the Democratic primary.
Smith led 62 percent to Tyson’s 38 percent.
Several factors worked against Tyson, including Democratic-faithful voters’ unfamiliarity with him and the Unity Party name and their long-standing interest in voting for candidates identified as Democrats on the ballot. Also, voters in the predominantly black district said they doubted the charge against Smith and believed he could have been set up by authorities.
Smith, a freshman lawmaker, was indicted on a federal bribery charge just days before the March primary. But his primary win secured his spot on the ballot as the candidate for the Democratic Party.
He is accused of accepting a $7,000 bribe related to his work as a state representative. In August, his colleagues in the House kicked him out, giving him the dubious distinction of being the first representative expelled in more than a century.
His win Tuesday night sets him up to return to his 10th District seat in January, because his expulsion applied only to the current General Assembly. A new General Assembly takes office in January, and Smith cannot be expelled for the same infraction more than once.
However, should he be convicted of the federal bribery charge, he would not be allowed to continue serving as a lawmaker.