Elections heating up in Chicago's 26th District - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Elections heating up in Chicago's 26th District

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Next week's Illinois primary elections are jam-packed with candidates.

It's a more crowded field than usual. Incumbents are being challenged from multiple angles. It's what happens after groundbreaking laws about things like gay marriage and pension reform are passed. One good example would be Chicago's 26th District.

"I really appreciate your making some phone calls," said state representative Christian Mitchell.

In the scant 14 months he's been a state representative, Mitchell has cast some tough votes. Karen Lewis, president of the teacher's union, resides in the 26th district and vows to punish Mitchell for supporting public employee pension reform. Also, some local pastors want to punish Mitchell for co-sponsoring the same-sex marriage law.

"That was a slap in the face to many African-American clergymen who felt as though they supported him. They allowed him to come into their pulpit," said Sean Howard, spokesman for the African-American Clergy Coalition.

"As an African-American, having seen what discrimination looks like, we ought to be the first ones saying, ‘hey, this isn't something that government ought to be doing.' It should not be in the business of discriminating against its citizens," Mitchell said.

Raised by a single mother, 27-year old Mitchell graduated from the University of Chicago and served as a top aide to cook county board president Toni Preckwinkle. She's endorsed his re-election.

The teachers and other public employee unions are lobbying Preckwinkle to run for mayor. However, for Mitchell's house seat, the teachers have endorsed community organizer Jay Travis, focused on government pensions.

"Rep. Mitchell has been more beholden to the interests of the ‘We Mean Business PAC' than he has been to the elderly retirees that reside in his district," said Travis.

Mitchell said his tough vote actually preserved government pensions.

"The same day we passed that bill saving defined benefit plans in the state of Illinois 80 cents on the dollar. In Detroit, a judge said that they could get 10 cents," Mitchell added.

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