Thursday, December 23, 2010

How will the African-American vote react if it turns out to be not relevant?

DAVIS: Is he the front-runner?
I have been wondering in recent weeks what the reaction will be among African-American voters if the outcome of the Feb. 22 mayoral elections is that none of their preferred candidates turns out to be relevant.

What if it becomes reality that Rahm Emanuel finishes first, but falls short of a majority of voters, and someone like Gery Chico turns out to be the second-place finisher – allowing him to go head-to-head against Emanuel in a runoff election to be held April 5?

THERE ARE THOSE people who think that such a scenario is the best bet for producing a Latino mayor for Chicago – with Chico getting the growing Latino voter bloc along with all those voters who can’t stand the thought of Emanuel as mayor and are prepared to vote ABR.

The conventional logic is that a lot of those ‘Anybody But Rahm”-type voters might not feel so strongly if the choice becomes Emanuel and an African-American candidate (although I could see a lot of them letting their hang-ups become so intense that they just sit out the April 5 runoff).

But seriously, what happens to the black voter bloc of Chicago if former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., and Rev./state Sen. James Meeks, D-Chicago, all finish third or worse?

Considering that this was the electoral cycle that many of these voters started out thinking that the time for another African-American official in the mayor’s office had finally arrived, I could envision many pissed-off people if the whole concept of African-American mayors became the ultimate afterthought.

I’M NOT THE least bit surprised to hear that Meeks’ staffers are saying the candidate has received nothing but "encouragement" because of his recent comments about minority hiring and to what degree women and non-black people should be considered minorities.

He probably has limited his public exposure to crowds of people who want to believe what he had to say. Much of his campaign strategy was always based upon being the dominant voice among African-American voters so that they would be a significant-enough number for second place.

That desire is what was behind the Wednesday meeting between Davis, Meeks and Moseley-Braun to talk about the polls, some of which show Davis in second place, with others putting Moseley-Braun in that spot and a few saying it’s Chico.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that some people at that meeting discussed whether Meeks should drop out, so as to increase the chance that African-American votes for Davis or Moseley-Braun could be significant enough to qualify for a runoff election.

MEEKS IS DENYING any such intent, and a part of me hopes he sticks to his principles and stays in this campaign.

I must admit a part of me is offended to learn that the three candidates held a private meeting amongst themselves to discuss the Election Day dynamic. It strikes me as being only a notch or two above trying to ensure a certain voter outcome.

Do we really have the three major black candidates for mayor trying to rig this election? I certainly hope not.

But then again, I’m sure certain circumstances will cause some people to over-react.

WHAT I WONDER is how depressed (as in size, not psychological condition) the voter turnout would be among African-American voters on April 5 if there are no black candidates in the race? How eventful would that circumstance make this particular campaign?

Considering how significant the African-American population is to Chicago, I couldn’t envision having a campaign where they just sat out in large numbers. Yet a part of me wonders if that is the direction we’re headed in.

MEEKS: Senses "encouragement"
Unless …

By chance if Emanuel were to get kicked off the ballot when the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners meets Thursday to issue its ruling about his status. Going into the day, we had no clue how the board was leaning.

JOE MORRIS, THE rare example of a Chicago Republican who presided over Emanuel’s election board hearings, was supposed to make his recommendation Tuesday, but still hadn’t done so as of the final hours of Wednesday.

This is going to be a case where the commissioners will follow the leader and act, then worry about justifying their actions. Or perhaps they’ve already made up their minds to keep Emanuel on the ballot and let a judge somewhere come up with a reason to give him the boot?

There may well be some people with an interest in African-American political empowerment who are banking on a ballot without Emanuel, which would then make this campaign a free-for-all in which any of the three black candidates could quickly become the front-runner.

In fact, it’s too bad that Roland, Roland Roland rolled himself out of contention last week. A ballot without Rahm would be so wide-open that it could have turned former Sen. Roland Burris into a serious candidate.


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