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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Obama Makes History
by Andrew Davis
2004-11-10

This article shared 2404 times since Wed Nov 10, 2004
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Democratic senatorial candidate Barack Obama made history Nov. 2. By beating ultra-conservative talk show host Alan Keyes in a landslide victory, Obama will be the only African American in the United States Senate. The race itself actually made history because it was the first time that two African Americans had faced each other in a senatorial contest.

Obama had 70 percent, or 3,425,074 votes, and Keyes had 27 percent, or 1,319,920 votes, in unofficial returns. Two third-party candidates split the rest of the vote. Obama's 43 percentage point lead over Keyes trumps the previous record for a U.S. Senate race in Illinois. Obama's vote total was the largest in Illinois history, topping the 3 million collected by Republican Gov. James R. Thompson in 1976. His margin of victory, 2 million votes, broke the record of 1.574 million set by Republican Jim Edgar in his 1986 secretary of state contest against a Lyndon LaRouche-backed candidate running as the Democratic nominee.

One reason that Obama was able to get so many votes was because he portrayed himself as someone who can unite people despite racial and political differences. Another reason was that Keyes often caused controversy by making statements such as 'Jesus would not vote for Obama.'

At his victory rally, a beaming Obama said 'Thank you, Illinois! Let me say how grateful I am to all of you for the extraordinary privilege of standing here.' He concluded his victory speech with those three little words that became his campaign's mantra: 'Yes, we can!'

The charismatic Obama, the son of a Kenyan father and American mother, was a relatively obscure Senate hopeful just a few months ago but catapulted to prominence after giving an electrifying keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in July. Asked how he felt to become the lone African-American in the Senate, Obama said in an interview published by the Chicago Tribune that ' [ his ] first responsibility will be to the people of Illinois.'


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