Before briefly appearing in court on a felony weapons charge Wednesday, Illinois State Sen. Donne Trotter vowed to continue to push on in his bid to fill Jesse Jackson Jr.'s vacated congressional seat -- and appears to have a better-than-decent shot at accomplishing exactly that.
This Saturday, members of the Cook County Democratic Party slating committee are expected to meet and endorse one candidate from the many names running in the special election to replace Jackson in Congress. And Trotter said Wednesday he hopes he will be their choice, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Still, Trotter's team is aware that the 62-year-old's Dec. 5 arrest -- after Transportation Security Administration officers found a .25-caliber Beretta handgun and ammunition inside a bag he planned to bring aboard a flight to Washington from O'Hare International Airport -- remains "a cloud hanging over his head," the Associated Press notes.
"You'd have to be deaf and dumb to think it wouldn't affect his candidacy," Thomas Durkin, Trotter's attorney, told the AP.
The lawmaker's case has been continued until Jan. 17, per prosecutors' wish to present its evidence to a grand jury, Fox Chicago reports. Durkin told the station that prosecutors' sought to avoid a preliminary hearing for fear they would lose the case.
Trotter, 62, declined to comment on the gun charge Wednesday, but previously claimed that he uses the gun for his job with a security company and that he had forgotten it was inside his luggage.
Despite the clamor surrounding his arrest, Trotter remains among the favorites in the race to receive the party's backing Saturday. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Thornton Township Committeeman Frank Zuccarelli has said he will support Trotter. Zuccarelli controls 29 percent of the district's total weighted vote because his township is home to the most Democratic voters of any ward or other segment of Illinois' 2nd Congressional District.
"He made a mistake," Zuccarelli told ABC Chicago. "He had a license to carry the gun. He shouldn't have had it with him and he didn't know. It was an accident, a mistake, and we all make mistakes."
Fellow State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, considered by many to be another early frontrunner in the race to replace Jackson, is less forgiving of Trotter's "mistake." Hutchinson spoke out against her rival on Monday.
"We've had three congressmen in a row leave with issues, with scandals and legal issues and I think people are ready to turn the page," Hutchinson said, according to ABC.
State Rep. Monique Davis, who also is reportedly mulling a run in the crowded race, also offered strong words against Trotter, according to DNAinfo Chicago.
"Who forgets they have a gun in their bag? As a legislator you have to be thinking at all times, and obviously, Sen. Trotter was not thinking when he left home that day," Davis told DNA.