Donkey in center with flags in the upper left and right with Illinois state in red on the left. Black text on white background.
On January 21, 2003, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the United States Senate seat for Illinois. He’d been campaigning for the position since July of 2002. Out of the 15 candidates, seven were millionaires, which led to the most expensive campaign for a United States Senate primary. It wasn’t until Obama extended his campaign to television ads that he took the lead. Barack Obama won the Democratic primary on March 16, 2004 with nearly 53% of the votes for the party.
In the general election, Obama ran against two different Republican candidates: Jack Ryan and Alan Keyes. While Ryan had originally won the Republican primary election after reportedly spending $3.35 million of his own money on his campaign, he was pushed to back down following the release of compromising records from his divorce and child custody battle against Star Trek actress, Jeri Ryan. Just over a month after the child custody files were released by the Los Angeles court, Ryan withdrew from the election on July 29, 2004.
Following Ryan's withdrawal, the Illinois Republican Party asked Alan Keyes (their third replacement choice) to run and he agreed. Keyes had run for Senate in New York previously and had lost. Although he had been contacted by the Illinois Republican Party to run, Keyes faced criticism for running in a state in which he had never lived and was accused of carpetbagging. In the end, Keyes’ few ties to the state and some of his more radical statements lost him the race with a massive 43% difference in votes. On November 2, 2004, Barack Obama became one of the United States Senators from Illinois. He was officially sworn into office on January 3, 2005.
Davey, M. (2004, March 17). The 2004 campaign: The Illinois primary; from crowded field, democrats choose state legislator to seek senate seat. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/17/us/2004-campaign-illinois-primary-cro...
2004 United States senate election in Illinois. (2020, June). Retrieved June 22, 2020 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_United_States_Senate_election_in_Illi...
Alan Keyes. (2020, June). Retrieved June 22, 2020 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Keyes
Barack Obama. (2020, June). Retrieved June 22, 2020 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama