Friday, March 14, 2014

Bob Shaw is back in Chicago; is he bored with political suburbia? Will anybody want him to replace Rahm?

SHAW: Will Chicago fall for Bob?
Bob Shaw, the one-time alderman and Cook County Board member, is throwing himself into the mix as a challenger to Mayor Rahm Emanuel in next year's election cycle.

Which on the surface doesn't sound like a big deal. There was bound to be someone who's ego was bloated enough that they would feel the need to be the token opposition to Emanuel come February of 2015.

BUT WHAT CATCHES my attention about this move is the fact that Shaw, along with brother William, were the political people who a couple of decades ago left Chicago and the South Side (the Roseland neighborhood, to be exact) for suburbia.

The intent for them was to become political powerbrokers in a new turf, rather than having to share control with other Chicago South Side government officials.

William Shaw went from being a state legislator from the South Side to being mayor of Dolton, along with a suburban state legislator -- until his death in 2008.

While Bob Shaw went from being 9th Ward Alderman to being a county board member from the south suburbs, and to having a home in suburban South Holland. Even though he's no longer in office, he maintains a political tie by showing up at assorted events and serving as an advisor to several government officials.

IT WOULD SEEM that Shaw's suburban aspirations are over. Probably part of the reason he's kicking off a mayoral campaign now is that he has to re-establish himself as a Chicago resident. He says he moved back to the city in December.

Although wouldn't it be ironic if the 2015 campaign cycle included an effort by Emanuel to boot Shaw off the ballot based on residency requirements -- after Emanuel himself was the guy who endured a lengthy court battle to contend he was really a Chicagoan even all those years he was working in Washington, D.C.

What was notable about the attempt by the Shaws to become the political bosses of the south suburbs was that it put the brothers into constant battles with the Jackson family, which usually managed to prevail.

But if one looks closely at the village boards of many predominantly-African-American south suburbs, you'll find officials whose loyalties are to the Shaws.

BUT THAT BATTLE is over (Bill is deceased, and Jesse, Jr., is incarcerated).

So the idea of running for mayor could easily be a way for Bob Shaw to keep himself amused and busy for the upcoming year. What else does he have to do with himself? Even at age 77, he's not ready for a real retirement!

Although Shaw on Thursday made a point of touting his political connections, as though it would only be natural for him to be the challenger to Emanuel.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported how he pointed out he and his brother's Arkansas connections, and claimed that his family knew the family that produced President Bill Clinton back in the old days.

IT'S POSSIBLE, I suppose. Bob and Bill Shaw were among the many millions of black people who fled the south during the 20th Century for hopes of a better life in the north -- which is what boosted the African-American population of Chicago from about 10,000 at the beginning of the century to more than 1 million by 1950.

Although I doubt the two families were best of buds back in the old home. Emanuel being on Clinton's White House staff gives him a much closer tie than any Shaw has with the former president.

So what should we make of Bob Shaw as a mayoral candidate?

It makes as much sense as anyone else. He won't hesitate to speak out. He will be critical of Emanuel's policies. And he may be capable of playing off the discontent felt by many African-American would-be voters toward the incumbent mayor.

HE'LL CERTAINLY DO better than Carol Moseley-Braun did back when she ran for mayor in 2009.

But I suspect he'll go into the Chicago history books alongside people such as Timothy Evans, Bobby Rush, Danny Davis and R. Eugene Pincham.

Those were all black men who took on Richard M. Daley, and lost! Even though they picked up the bulk of the black vote in their respective election cycles.

My guess is that Bob Shaw will come across as equally alien to the rest of Chicago as those men did. But he will be interesting to watch and lsiten to for the next year.


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