One of the perils of being a state senator is the need to vote on the record. Sam Youngman and Aaron Blake of The Hill have looked into Barack Obama's record as an Illinois state senator, and find that he has given his opponents a lot to work with.
In 1998, Obama was one of only three senators to vote against a proposal making it a criminal offense for convicts on probation or on bail to have contact with a street gang.
In 2001, Obama voted against a measure that would have expanded the penalties for some gang activity to include the death penalty. The bill was vetoed by then-Gov. George Ryan (R ) not long after he had issued a moratorium on the death penalty in the state.
Obama, at the time, said the bill would unfairly target minorities, stating, "There's a strong overlap between gang affiliation and young men of color ... I think it's problematic for them to be singled out as more likely to receive the death penalty for carrying out certain acts than are others who do the same thing."
Obama opposes the death penalty except for terrorists, serial killers and child-murderers, but his campaign added that he does not support the death penalty as it is currently administered in this country.
On a 1999 vote making adult prosecution mandatory for aggravated discharge of a firearm in or near a school, the senator voted "present."
He explained the vote, saying, "There is really no proof or indication that automatic transfers and increased penalties and adult penalties for juvenile offenses have, in fact, proven to be more effective in reducing juvenile crime or cutting back on recidivism."
And in 2001, Obama voted "present" on a bill that would increase penalties for trafficking in Ecstasy and other designer drugs.
There's more. read the whole thing.