By Peter Slevin and Kari Lydersen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
CHICAGO, Feb. 5 -- Voting on Chicago's solidly Democratic Far North Side, Rickey Purnell saw no cause to agonize.
"The war's really what made me come out and vote. It is really a travesty," said Purnell, 49, who chose Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). "It's the fact that Obama didn't vote for the war that makes me stand in his corner. He was against the war, and I was."
Following Purnell into the Paschen Park polling place was Michael Land, 44, who said that "this asinine war" distinguished Obama from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
"The other thing is he has the it factor," Land said. "When all is said and done, he has the charisma and the qualities that Hillary lacks, and that's what tips the scales."
Clinton voters were also casting ballots, but they were looking well outnumbered.
"I am happily voting for Hillary. I think she is absolutely the most qualified," said Linda Tannen, 65. "She's going to break my heart, probably. Most people I know, they're going to vote for Obama."
In any other year, Chicago might have gone solidly for Clinton. She grew up in suburban Park Ridge, and it was here that she had some of her formative political moments. She campaigned in the city, and friends from her youth led an election-eve rally.
But Clinton moved on, and Obama moved in, setting up shop on the South Side, first as a community organizer and later as a lawyer, state legislator and U.S. senator. In Obama's 2004 primary, he nearly swept Chicago's multi-hued wards. His headquarters are here, and he won the backing of Mayor Richard M. Daley (D).
Clinton sent staff members to Chicago to try to peel delegates from Obama's total, and she worked particularly hard for Latino votes. In urban Pilsen, a largely immigrant neighborhood, a number of Latino voters said they preferred Clinton because of her forcefulness and resolve and their high regard for her husband.
Bricklayer David Guerra said he voted for one Clinton because he liked the other Clinton: former president Bill Clinton.
"Bill was a good president; he did a lot for the economy," said Guerra, 33. "He created so many jobs, until Bush ruined it."
Others noted that Clinton and Obama voted to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and that Obama seemed more likely to bring about immigration reform.
"I'm hoping he's more willing to compromise," said Veronica Castro, 26, an immigration worker. Colleague Lisa Thakkar, 33, said, "I'd like to vote for a woman, but not the woman we have running."
That is not how truck driver John Lezo saw it. He said he voted for Clinton because "women should be in charge. Men should be the ones mopping the floor."
Among several voters who consider health care the most important issue, Obama's approach of achieving greater coverage through lower costs seemed more popular than Clinton's determination to create a mandate requiring universal coverage.
"Clinton's mandate doesn't give people choice," said Christina Bronsing, 24, an employee of a nonprofit community health clinic.