Ina Pinkney running for Senate
Today, Ina Pinkney, the chef-owner of Ina's, announced that she is running for U.S. Senator. The announcement. which came via her restaurant's monthly newsletter, started like so:
Today I declare my candidacy for U.S. Senate.
In a bizarre legal twist that surely will go down in history, Illinois voters will choose two U.S. senators for the same seat. One will serve a six-year term starting January 3, 2011, and one will serve an eight-week term beginning right after the election and running through January 2, 2011. This term will fill the seat vacated by President Obama that is temporarily occupied by Senator Roland Burris.
For you, citizens of Illinois, I have cleared my schedule beginning on November 3, 2010.
Anybody who follows Chicago politics (or Ina) may be experiencing a little dejavu: In 2007 Pinkney ran for mayor, and received 2,302 votes.
Her run for mayor wasn't without incident: She got calls from a couple aldermen encouraging her not to run. She also got a call from Mayor Daley's chief of staff at the time, the hunky Ron Huberman.
"It's not a good idea," he told Pinkney.
"Doesn't anybody downtown have a sense of humor?" she asked.
"No," Huberman said.
That election day, Ina's received three unannounced restaurant inspections.
But Pinkney would not be intimidated, nor will she be now. "Does it scare me? No, nothing scares me. Nothing scares me."
In what is probably a first for modern campaigns, Pinkney plans to do the whole thing without any money. Senators typically "take money from very wealthy people, then they try to convince us that they are making policy for the poor," she says. "It doesn't add up. We're not raising any money, we're not spending any money. I'm not beholden to anyone—not even a party."
Pinkney does have a staff, however—one volunteer is working on the Friends of Ina Facebook page (going up later today); another is assigned to a Twitter account.
If elected to the eight-week term (she has no interest in the full six-year term), Pinkney hopes to advocate for Senator Durbin's bill to give the FDA more power to recall contaminated food, among other things. "I certainly can do some things that will make a difference," she says. "They're all common sense things."
Naysayers might see Pinkney's announcement as a joke or publicity stunt; she insists it's neither. "The reason it's not a publicity stunt is because I had to go through a lot to become a write-in candidate." (Pinkney had to send a notorized letter of intent to 110 election authorities around the state, else write-in votes for her wouldn't be counted.) "If this were a joke, I wouldn't have done that."
"I do things because it's the right thing to do," she added.