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Barack Obama

Political Timeline

By

Updated January 03, 2009
When Barack Obama decided he wanted to run for the Illinois Senate in 1996, he ensured his candidacy by successfully challenging the nomination petitions of his four competitors.

Obama's entry into federal politics was also marked by competitors falling by the wayside. He won both the 2004 primary and general election for the US Senate "after tough challengers imploded when their messy divorce files were unsealed," the Chicago Tribune writes.

The NYT reports that "the Tribune reporter ... acknowledged in print that the Obama camp had 'worked aggressively behind the scenes' to push the story. But there are those in Chicago who believe that [David] Axelrod had an even more significant role - that he leaked the initial story."

Then on 25 June 2004, Obama's Republican opponent, Jack Ryan, withdrew due to yet-another a sex scandal.

This article provides a detailed (and in-work) timeline of Obama's political career through 2007.

  • 1988 - Obama is a summer associate at the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin

  • 1992 - Obama graduates from Harvard and returns to Chicago

  • 1992, Oct - Obama marries fellow attorney Michelle Robinson

  • 1995, Jul - Obama, at 34, publishes his first memoir, "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance"

  • 1995, Aug - Obama files paperwork to run for Palmer's Illinois Senate seat

  • 1996, Jan - Obama has his four competitor petitions invalidated; he emerges as the only candidate

  • 1996, Nov - Obama is elected to Illinois Senate, which is controlled by Republicans

  • 1999 - Obama begins running for Congress

  • 2000 - Obama loses his challenge for Congressional seat held by Rep. Bobby Rush

  • 2001 - Obama receives legal services contract with Illinois firm owned by Robert Blackwell, Jr. A few months later, Obama writes a letter on Illinois Senate letterhead in support of a tourism grant for a different Blackwell company. The next day, "Obama's U.S. Senate campaign received a $1,000 donation from Blackwell... In the presidential race he is credited on Obama's website with committing to raise $100,000 to $200,000 for Obama's campaign."

    Obama reported $98,158 income for providing legal services; $80,000 was from Blackwell's firm."Illinois ethics disclosure forms are designed to reveal possible financial conflicts by lawmakers... Obama did not specify that EKI provided him with the bulk of the private-sector compensation he received... he attached a multi-page list of all the law firm's clients, which included EKI among hundreds."

  • 2002, Nov - Democrats usurp Republican control of the Illinois Senate

  • 2003-2004 - Obama amasses his legislative record, serves as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee

  • 2003 - Obama begins running for US Senate; the leading Democratic candidate will withdraw in 2004 due to a sex scandal that Obama's campaign urged the Chicago Tribune to report.

  • 2003 - David Axelrod [begins having] camera crews virtually everything Obama has done in public." He uses this footage to create a five-minute Internet video for the 16 Jan. 2007 announcement that Obama is running for president.

  • 2004, Mar - Obama wins the primary with 52% of the vote

  • 2004, Jun - Obama's Republican opponent withdraws due to sex scandal

  • 2004, Aug - Democratic National Convention address

  • 2004, Nov - Obama is elected to US Senate with 70% of the vote

  • 2005, Jan - Obama files paperwork for his leadership PAC, The Hope Fund (PAC website no longer active)

  • 2005 - Obama purchases land from neighbor and now-indicted political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko

  • 2005 - "Shortly after his election to the U.S. Senate, he delivered a well-received address arguing faith should have a greater role in public discourse."

  • 2006 - Obama publishes the book, <em>The Audacity of Hope</em>

  • 2006, Oct 22 - Obama announces he is considering a run for the Presidency.
  • 2007, Jan - Obama begins running for US President

  • 2007, Mar - Obama endorses controversial Chicago alderman Dorothy "The Hat" Tillman, who reportedly "[deployed] city resources to hire her family and reward campaign contributors."

  • 2007, Apr - Controversy over Obama's MySpace page

  • 2007, May - Obama's campaign releases its sophisticated Facebook application, only hours "after the company launched the developer platform." TechPresident argues that Facebook gave the Obama camp an advantage: "the other campaigns found out about Platform’s with the rest of us, on Friday, May 25" and reports that "Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, is working on the Obama campaign."
  • 2007, September - Presented a plan for "full withdrawal" of American troops in Iraq.

  • 2007, December - Campaigns with Oprah Winfrey in Iowa and South Carolina.

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