Monday, January 3, 2011

Adventurous, or sore losers? What should we think of black consensus candidate?

MOSELEY-BRAUN: Does consensus tag hurt her?
In one sense, I can comprehend the desire by African-American activists and political people to do whatever it takes to ensure that “one of their own” winds up getting elected as mayor of Chicago following the Feb. 22 municipal election and likely April 5 runoff.

The Chicago population these days may still have more black people than any other one group. But the total is shrinking – at a time when the Latino and the Anglo populations in the city proper are on the rise.

HECK, SOME PEOPLE go so far as to imply that the African-American population in the city isn’t large enough to justify having three majority-black Congressional districts. Although those of us who understand the reality of politics realize that you don’t just zap out of existence a minority district at whim.

The point being that I can comprehend how black people who have no intention of joining their racial brethren in moving to the south suburbs (some towns in southern Cook County have become majority African-American in the past decade) or the South (Atlanta, in particular, is experiencing a black population growth) might feel they are losing control.

When combined with the resentment among some that has simmered for just over two decades in having another “Daley” as mayor rather than one of their own, it would create an ideal situation for political activists to do whatever they think needs to be done to bolster the chances that the “people” of Chicago pick a black person to serve as the chief executive of city government.

 So does it shock me that people were ultimately able to get Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., to drop out of the mayoral race, thereby leaving former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun as the only so-called major candidate who is African-American?

NO, IT DOESN’T surprise me. It doesn’t quite offend me either. But a part of me thinks it stinks. It reminds me too much of the whining that was heard from some white Chicagoans some 27 years ago when Harold Washington got elected mayor instead of incumbent Jane Byrne or then-state Sen. Richard M. Daley.
CHICO: Does Davis withdrawal doom him?

Those people complained that if only one white candidate had dropped out and it had been a head-to-head election in the Democratic primary of ’83, there’s no way Washington would have won. They’re right, but that attitude still stinks.

But with the latest actions of the African-American activists, it would seem that the same attitude exists on the other side of the racial divide. It comes across as mean-spirited for those activists to think they’re entitled to conditions meant to “ensure” their electoral victory.

Which means the ultimate payback, so to speak, could come if the Moseley-Braun campaign is unable to achieve victory – which in this case, means second place.

I’M GOING TO be eagerly awaiting the next round of polls – the ones that likely will be taken this week, to see how much the departure of Davis (and the Rev. James Meeks the week before last) has shifted the demographic of this election.

Because I remember the polls previously taken that showed Rahm Emanuel not only with a huge lead over every other candidacy, but also with more support than all the African-American candidates put together. In short, the racial breakdown means more than the overall breakdown.

I think it is safe to say that Emanuel, whose ties to the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama intrigue a certain segment of the population, will get more votes than any other candidate on Feb. 22. But I’m not sure it is a guarantee that Moseley-Braun now automatically finishes in second place and takes on Emanuel in a run-off election.

EMANUEL: Still the leader?
For one thing, we have the campaign of Gery Chico, the one-time public schools president who was aligned with Paul Vallas when he did his work in revamping the Chicago Public Schools in the mid-1990s.

HIS CAMPAIGN HAS taken on some significant support among those people to whom Emanuel’s political persona (and his ties to Obama and Clinton) are a serious turnoff. It is safe to say that much of the “Anybody But Rahm” vote is going to Chico. I wonder if his campaign has built up so much momentum that it is not about to be stopped by Moseley-Braun’s supporters.

Particularly since the whole process by black activists to create a consensus candidate became such a bungled mess that I can’t help but think it taints Moseley-Braun to be thought of as the officially-preferred candidate of black Chicago. After all, Davis WAS the consensus candidate. But he was too weak to shake off Moseley-Braun – who has her own detractors, not all of whom are as flaky as Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg.

The end result is that the whole process of picking a consensus candidate has made the African-American activists look weak and unorganized, which will reflect poorly upon their preferred candidate.

Now I know Moseley-Braun has her own qualifications. Personally, I think much of the rhetoric used against her is cheap and stupid and reflects more on the ignorance of her detractors than on anything bad about the candidate herself.

SHE MAY EVEN have believed herself when she told a gathering Saturday at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition that she has, “the most credentials and the most qualifications and experience of all the candidates running.” She is, after all, a former state legislator, Cook County recorder of deeds and ambassador to New Zealand – in addition to her six years in the U.S. Senate.

But Chico is a former mayoral chief of staff, head of the Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges of Chicago, and of the Chicago Park District. Not exactly shabby. Then, there’s Emanuel with his presidential stints and time in Congress – during which he orchestrated the Democratic majorities that gave the city more influence in Washington since 2006 than it will have during the next two years.

Likely, whoever winds up becoming mayor in May will have their share of credentials to boast about during the campaign season.

DEL VALLE: Too quiet for own good?
What is means is a lot of rhetoric during the next two months – some of which will become nasty.

IN FACT, ABOUT the only person who won’t get into that mess will be Miguel del Valle, the city Clerk and former state legislator who also is running for mayor, even though his campaign seems to gain no attention once one leaves the Latino neighborhoods (which the population trends are showing to be much of Chicago away from the Lakefront).

It’s a shame. Because a part of me is starting to think that what this city needs is someone of del Valle’s quiet demeanor, rather than the blowhards who are likely to prevail.


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