Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Will Jesse Jackson help Chuy get significant number of black voters?

The Rev. Jesse Jackson gave his political support Monday to the mayoral bid of hopeful Jesus Garcia, saying he believes Chuy would be more supportive of African-American neighborhoods than Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been.

Garcia, who has constantly touted the fact that when he was an alderman back in the 1980s he was an ally of then-Mayor Harold Washington, wants for the bulk of the black vote to turn out on April 7 in his favor.

GARCIA ALREADY SEEMS to have the bulk of the Latino vote. If combined with liberal-minded white people AND a large share of black voters, it could be enough for the Cook County commissioner from the Little Village neighborhood to prevail in his bid to dump Rahm from office.

So in that sense, having a prominent public personage such as Jackson on his side could help in getting black voters who might otherwise have trouble coming around to support a Latino official to actually do so.

Although the question remains as to whether Jackson is more powerful politically in terms of addressing the major issues confronting our society, while insignificant when talking about local concerns.

It could turn out that the local pastors might have a stronger pull in getting their congregation members to vote in a certain way. While such voters may cheer for Jesse when he speaks, they’re more likely to listen to whomever they follow at their local churches.

BUT GARCIA WANTS to be able to claim black voters, and not just because he needs them in order to win. It’s kind of hard to claim to be a progressive voice for change if the black voter bloc is more or less content with the way things are.

The reality of the municipal elections last month is that the bulk of voters in black-oriented wards supported Emanuel for re-election over all the other candidates.

Even Willie Wilson, who based his campaign on the idea that black voters would put him into office, wound up only getting about 20 percent of the vote in those wards (while being irrelevant in the rest of Chicago).

Both Emanuel and Garcia have sought Wilson’s support, and he has had meetings with both men to talk about endorsement opportunities. Although he seems to be more interested in being perceived as a political player than in actually doing anything to be one.

THESE DAYS, HE’S focusing his attention on the state budget mess that the government in Springfield is confronting. The Capitol Fax newsletter reported how he offered to be the intermediary between the Legislature’s black caucus and Gov. Bruce Rauner – who himself is a friend of Emanuel.

Not that the caucus members were all that sympathetic to dealing with Wilson in such a capacity. For him to get involved in the mayoral campaigns any further could kill off his own public perception.

So now, we’re getting to seeking Jackson’s support. Although I suspect the “Jackson” name has taken so many public perception hits that it might not have the same influence it used to – and not just because “Jr.” is still serving time toward his federal prison sentence (with spouse Sandi to do her time once he returns to Chicago).

If anything, the latest poll from Ogden & Fry could wind up being the most accurate view of the campaign status – Emanuel has a five-point lead over Garcia with 18 percent still undecided. Which is about the same as the poll done the week before.

NO CHANGE IN support levels, with one less week of time in which to actually campaign.

That same poll also showed 40 percent of African-American voters saying they prefer Rahm, compared to 33 percent for Chuy – and 27 percent more still undecided.

No wonder Garcia wants help in getting that just over a quarter of black voters to decide they want him instead of Rahm at City Hall.

Although a part of me thinks back to the 2002 film “Barbershop” and wonders how many potential voters learned of Jackson’s endorsement Monday and had the same thought that Cedric the Entertainer’s “Eddie” character had toward the reverend?


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