Make that 0-3 for Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins.
By all accounts, it seemed like the former mayoral hopeful was a shoe-in to replace Annazette Collins as state representative for the 10 District, which covers parts of the West Side.
But it didn’t happen.
West Side Democratic committeemen met March 24 at a West Loop restaurant to fill Collins’ vacant seat-the same eatery committeemen met on March 14 in choosing Collins to replace former 5th District state Sen. Rickey Hendon, who resigned his seat last month. Van Pelt-Watkins was a contender for that seat as well.
The committee last week chose Derrick Smith, a Jesse White protégé, as the new 10th District state rep. Smith served four years as deputy director of accounting revenue with the Secretary of State Office. He was immediately sworn-in after last Thursday’s hearing.
White, the 27th Democratic Ward committeemen who chaired the hearing, praised Van Pelt-Watkins, whom he called a “viable candidate.” She ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Chicago in February and came in second to Collins for the 5th District senate seat.
Van Pelt-Watkins was not surprised by the committee’s decision last week. She was one of six contenders, including Collins’ daughter, Angelique. The closed-door nominations named Van Pelt-Watkins, Smith and Springfield lobbyist Jonathan Goldman as the finalists.
“I saw what happened last time so I know they make a lot of deals in there,” Van Pelt-Watkins said. “I talked to every [committeemen] and the majority of them said I had their support. The chances of me coming out without it were slim to me. They are playing a political game.”
Watkins said this has in no way deterred her political ambitions.
Smith, meanwhile, said he is “ecstatic” about his new position, but added that he is no political novice. He served as a precinct captain coordinator for 30 years and as an advisor to the Young Democrats of Cook County. He counts Secretary of State White as his political mentor. He also unsuccessfully ran for Cook County Board Commissioner in the 1st District in 2010 against incumbent Earlean Collins.
When asked about his political agenda, Smith played it close to the vest, but wants to get acquainted with his colleagues.
“There is some, but I don’t want to say right now-I want to get my feel wet,” he said.
Smith’s selection came contrary to interest generated when Van Pelt-Watkins attended the March 14 hearing to fill Hendon’s seat, who abruptly quit last month. But during that meeting, several committeemen praised Van Pelt-Watkins’ credentials.
Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey, a 32nd Ward committeeman, even tweeted that he liked Van Pelt-Watkins.
“Impressive presentation by Patricia Watkins. Lots of Springfield experience,” he wrote at the time.
But Goldman also believed the “fix was in.” But he saw it as an opportunity to express his desire to be a public servant, he said, noting he’s also considering a run for the seat when it comes up in 2012.
“My goal was to get up there and talk about my experience and the job that I thought I could do as a step rep. That’s what I did and the committeemen decided to go a different way,” Goldman said.
Smith garnered support from 28th Ward committeeman Ed Smith (4,363), Jesse Juarez of the 1st Ward (1,158) and White (4,835).
“Numbers speak,” Ed Smith said when asked of Van Pelt-Watkins’ supposed reversal of fortune. “She was not able to put together the numbers and without putting together the number she can’t win.”
Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) had high praise for both Van Pelt-Watkins and Goldman. He said Watkins was very knowledgeable of the issues, and he called Goldman an apt individual able to hit the ground running if he had been selected.
He contends the possible district remap could provide a chance for either two to seek public office.
“I think we are going to see a map that could divide this senate district up in four different ways,” the alderman said, “and I think the people are going to have an opportunity to speak in February  on who is the right candidate.”
But White believes Derrick Smith will do well in his new position and be reelected.
“With the support of my organization and the organizations that make up the district, I think he should do quite well,” White said.