Illinois State Rep. Karen Yarbrough has not endorsed any candidate to replace her in the 7th District primary race on March 20. But last week her longtime publicist, Larry Shapiro, agreed to serve as campaign manager for candidate Rory Hoskins. Hoskins, who is a Forest Park village commissioner, says he’s known Shapiro a long time.

“Larry’s an old friend and he has a number of relationships with many people in the Proviso area,” he said.

Shapiro sent an email on Jan. 5 announcing his decision to accept the job. “I am convinced that only Rory Hoskins can continue the legacy of Karen Yarbrough,” said the email. “I trust him,” it continued.

Shapiro, a longtime political consultant, lives in Bellwood, works for Congressman Danny Davis (D-7th) and has worked for Yarbrough and other candidates, including Carol Moseley Braun.

“I met Larry when I ran the second time,” said Yarbrough, who is slated in the Democratic primary to run for Cook County Recorder of Deeds. “What he’s good at is targeting and messaging and developing trends. But he won’t take [just] any campaign. He gives his time and talent to candidates he believes in because he cares about the process.”

Yarbrough held an educational forum last year for members of the Proviso Township Democrat Organization for three of five candidates for her old job: Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Rory Hoskins and Shirby Miller. She sent an Internet poll last week to 425 members. The returned electronic surveys showed Hoskins and Welch neck-and-neck, with Hoskins getting 46.4 percent, Welch with 45.5 percent and Miller with 9.8 percent. Only 111 survey responses were collected, but Yarbrough said she takes the input seriously because they were “dues-paying Proviso Democrats.” Since there was no clear winner, she wrote in an email, “I have decided to issue a ‘no endorsement.'”

Financially, Hoskins is the underdog in the race. In September, the Illinois State Board of Elections reported Hoskins had $3,549.58 in campaign funds. Since then, he reported three private donations, totaling an additional $4,000. Welch reported a campaign balance of $58,225.52 in September and since then has reported big ticket donations of $8,000 more, including $1,000 from SEIU Local 73 and $3,000 from the Proviso Junior Panthers. Complete year-end reports for candidates are not yet available.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...