Elrick: Presidential debate reminds me of how far Kilpatrick has

Elrick: Presidential debate reminds me of how far Kilpatrick has fallen

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It's easy to forget now, with Kwame Kilpatrick on trial and Barack Obama on TV seeking a second term in the White House, that 12 years ago Kilpatrick was a rising black star in the Democratic Party and Obama was an obscure backbencher from Illinois.

Wednesday night's presidential debate reminded me just how far Kilpatrick has fallen.

As the leader of Michigan House Democrats, and son of a congresswoman, Kilpatrick snagged a coveted prime time speaking gig at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angles. He often mused about how far he had come from the not-so-long ago day when he and Christine Beatty had to sneak into an earlier convention.

In 2002, shortly after becoming mayor, he spearheaded a spirited but ill-fated attempt to derail Democratic lion Ted Kennedy's plan to bring the 2004 Democratic convention to Boston. Predictably, Detroit lost out. But Kilpatrick's mad dash impressed members of the site selection committee and raised his profile among Democratic poobahs. He ended up with a second convention speaking engagement.

For those of us tracking Kilpatrick's career, it seemed as if my 2002 prognostication that Kilpatrick was on his way to Washington in some capacity -- vice presidential candidate, cabinet secretary -- very well could come to pass.

But a series of scandals involving members of his inner circle and misuse of city money -- combined with that never-proven Manoogian Mansion rumor and the text message scandal that Jim Schaefer and I broke for the Free Press -- had Democrats running from Kilpatrick by the time they gathered in 2008 to anoint the once lesser-known Chicago pool as their champion.

As Obama fights to continue his tenure in the White House, Kilpatrick, his national ambitions long gone, is hoping he won't get another term in the Big House.

Follow M.L. Elrick's coverage of the Kilpatrick & Co. trial daily on Fox 2 and at www.myfoxdetroit.com. Contact him at ml.elrick@foxtv.com or via Twitter or Facebook.

 

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