Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner made a point earlier this year of touting the number of African-American ministers willing to publicly endorse him.
It’s not that large a number in terms of the totality of clergy ministering to black neighborhoods on the South and West sides. But it could impact the number of votes that turn out for Gov. Pat Quinn just enough that the hard-core GOPers of Illinois could be enough supporters to actually win a statewide election.
RAUNER IS CONTINUING to emphasize that theme of reaching out to black voters. On Friday, his campaign operation opened up a new office on 79th Street in the Grand Crossing neighborhood.
It will be out of that South Side office that his operations to try to appeal to black voters (or at least discourage them from getting all worked up over Quinn come Nov. 4) will take place.
Which is unique because most Republican campaigns for higher office generally tend to ignore African-American oriented communities – they’d prefer to pretend that they don’t exist. Which is the real reason black voters can go 90 percent in favor of Democratic Party candidates for public office.
Rauner even went so far as to show up for the Saturday take on the Bud Billiken Day parade – the Chicago Defender-sponsored parade that is meant to mark the end of summer and get children excited about the start of a new school year.
POLITICIANS OFTEN SHOW up at the parade through the Bronzeville neighborhood, but they usually are of the Democratic persuasion. Most Republicans act as though they have never heard of the parade. Then again, these are the same types of people who in Naperville have a Labor Day weekend parade that they prefer to call an “end of summer” parade.
Celebrate labor and workers? Harumph! You might as well start waving about the hammer and sickle to those people.
Rauner’s presence actually created a side angle to the campaign story. For it seems on Saturday there was a shooting incident near the parade route (two men were wounded – one in the derriere) that caused parade-watchers to scatter for safety not far from where the candidate from suburban Winnetka was greeting voters.
For the record, Rauner aides say they don’t think the candidate was aware of what was going on, and that they didn’t hear gunshots.
BUT I’M SURE on a certain level, Rauner is going to try to claim some credit for showing up in “da hood” – although if this evolves into a story of him having his life and limbs on the line while campaigning for governor, THAT is something we ought to call him out on!
Some of you may be saying I’m exaggerating what could happen. Maybe so, but let’s also be honest and admit that “truthfulness” is not something that campaigns of any candidacy or political persuasion let get in the way of a storyline – particularly if it makes the opposition look bad.
So what should we think of Rauner’s recent efforts to get black voters to not think of him as the enemy? I noticed the statement he put out when he opened that new campaign field office included a raft of statistics (17 percent African-American unemployment rate, worse than for Latinos, Asians or white people) that were due to “Pat Quinn’s failed leadership.”
Yet no mention of what Rauner himself might do to try to bolster employment among African-American people; which some might say is enhanced by the desires of so many GOPers to ignore outright the concerns of that community.