Friday, December 12, 2014

Will Garcia's ‘Washington’ tie mean anything to modern-day voters?

One of the facts being brought up repeatedly by those touting the mayoral candidacy of Jesus “Chuy” Garcia is the fact that when he was an alderman, he was aligned with the concerns of then-Mayor Harold Washington.

He was a loyalist to the city’s first black man to become mayor, and throughout the years in various city, state and county government posts has been supportive of issues of concern to African-American voters.

AS THOUGH THE African-American segment of the electorate ought to naturally be gravitating to Garcia in his political battle for votes against Mayor Rahm Emanuel and seven others come the Feb. 24 municipal elections.

Anybody with political sense, however, ought to realize that life is not that simple on Election Day. Garcia is going to have to aggressively seek such votes if he wants to have a chance at winning election – or even forcing Emanuel into a run-off election come April 7.

Evidence of that ought to have been seen this week by the mayoral campaign of Amara Enyia, whose reaction to learning that her nominating petitions were being challenged and that she would have to endure an expensive legal battle to try to stay on the ballot (and likely get only 1 percent of the vote if she succeeded) was to withdraw.

Enyia, whose motivation for running for mayor even though she’s never held elective office before, was her disgust for Emanuel in the position. She wants him out. So to continue her cause of wanting Anybody but Rahm as mayor, she ended her campaign with an endorsement.

ENYIA, HEAD OF the Austin neighborhood Chamber of Commerce and a native of suburban University Park who has chosen to live her adult life in the city proper, is backing 2nd Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti’s mayoral campaign.

Fioretti, not Garcia. Even though some had tried to claim that as a daughter of immigrants from Nigeria, Enyia might somewhat comprehend the life story of Garcia, who is an immigrant from Mexico who has lived the bulk of his life in Chicago.

Although race has the tendency to complicate human issues, even when Anglo people aren’t involved.

Enyia, in her public comments, didn’t bad-mouth Garcia. She kept it to praise of Fioretti, saying she thought he “is better positioned” to beat Emanuel. Although various polls I have seen have generally indicated that Fioretti and Garcia are pretty much tied for second place behind Emanuel, with the other candidates struggling for whatever leftover votes will exist.

ALTHOUGH I WONDER if she is in line with much of the trash-talk rhetoric that gets spewed by too many people whenever ethnicity comes up in discussion. And it’s not just black people not liking Latinos; I’ve heard way too much stupid talk from Latino officials who want to maintain distance between themselves and black people.

This kind of nonsense could well be what keeps Garcia from being anything other than the dominant candidate in Spanish-speaking enclaves – and irrelevant in the rest of Chicago.

Now I’m not bad-mouthing African-Americans with this commentary. It is up to the candidate to convince us why we should vote for him. If Garcia ultimately can’t take a significant share of the votes cast on Election Day, then his campaign has nobody to blame but themselves.

Washington won back in ’83 because he was able to sway a share of Latino and white voters to go along with his black voter base. The reason there hasn’t been a black person elected mayor since then is that those candidates couldn’t reach out to anybody who wasn’t just like themselves.

IT WOULD BE nice for the Garcia campaign, if they’re to have a chance at winning election, to learn that lesson from the Harold Washington days and reach out to people. Many black voters will feel just like Enyia if Garcia doesn’t give them a reason to vote for him.

Otherwise, the member of the Cook County Board who just got re-elected last month to a four-year term in office would be better off focusing on his duties there, instead of wasting his time doing a Don Quixote impersonation and jousting at windmills he believes to be Rahm Emanuel!


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