Monday, October 2, 2017

Is Kennedy for governor campaign trying to follow family history?

One of the big disappointments of the upcoming election cycle – at least as far as some political observers are concerned – is just how weak and pathetic has been the campaign of Chris Kennedy for Illinois governor.
Jesus Garcia offers his support to Chris Kennedy's gubernatorial dreams. Will that make a difference?

There were those people who went into this campaigning thinking that Election ’18 would be a brawl between the big family money of J.B. Pritzker, versus the Kennedy family legacy backing Chris – who is the Chicago-area’s Kennedy connection (for years, he ran the family-owned Merchandise Mart).

BUT KENNEDY’S CAMPAIGNING has been weak, particularly in the area of raising finances. Kennedy has name recognition (sort of), but it would seem that unless Chris can get a jolt in coming weeks, it will be the other fringe political challengers who will offer the Pritzker people their political fight.

Just where that jolt could come from got political people to speculating that it could be the growing Latino population (29.7 percent of Chicago’s populace, and now larger than the city’s African-American population) that could be what revives the chances of Chris Kennedy becoming the first Kennedy to get elected in Illinois (his cousins have been elected to office in various other states).

Could the Latino people of Illinois seriously wind up banding together to give Chris Kennedy enough political support to win the Democratic primary to be held March 20?

Bobby Kennedy and Cesar Chavez, back in the day
Such talk got goosed up last week when Jesus Garcia, the one-time alderman and state senator who now serves on the Cook County Board and who unsuccessfully challenged Rahm Emanuel for mayor two years ago, endorsed Chris Kennedy for governor.

SPECULATION AMONGST SOME is that Garcia has enough influence amongst the Mexican-American community in Chicago, along with other Latino ethnicities, that they will turn out for Kennedy.

Which would give the Kennedy campaign at least one group willing to publicly support him. When one considers the half-dozen or so Democratic gubernatorial dreamers, it is likely the primary winner will NOT top 50 percent. It won’t be a majority, but last year’s political victory by Donald J. Trump showed us a majority isn’t required to win.

JFK seeks Mexican-American votes back in '60 bid
Could Latino backing be enough to win a primary?

Could it cause the Latino public officials (including Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza) who have already come out in favor of J.B. Pritzker to think they have to figure out a way to change sides, or else wind up looking like a vendido – selling out the interests of their community?

WHAT IS INTRIGUING is that if such a strategy works, it would merely mean that Kennedy followed in the family tradition. Chris is the son of one-time Attorney General, senator and presidential dreamer Bobby Kennedy, and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy AND former Sen. Ted Kennedy – the long-time senator from Massachusetts.

All of whom had their own sense of Latino ties to bolster their chances of winning, with some using the label of “first Latino senator” to describe his Uncle Teddy.
A younger Jesus Garcia supportive of Harold Washington and Teddy Kennedy

Chris Kennedy himself, in announcing the Garcia endorsement, made a point of reminding people of his father’s ties to United Farm Workers founder Cesar Chavez. Bobby Kennedy included in his own presidential campaigning appearances with Chavez. Chris himself once joined with Chavez back in 1988 and fasted with him for three days when Cesar did a 36-day fast to highlight the impact of pesticides on the farm hands working the fields.

Could Chris Kennedy have 21st Century take on Viva ?
But if you go back to 1960 presidential campaign, the one that Mayor Richard J. Daley allegedly stole for JFK right here in Chicago, one could also make an argument that it was victories in California and Texas that put Kennedy in the White House.

MUCH OF THOSE state victories were due to the “Viva Kennedy” Club efforts – by which Mexican-American people were a focus on the Kennedy campaign, and their 10-1 voter support for JFK over Richard Nixon were considered significant elements of those victories.

Those “Viva Kennedy” club efforts were one of the first ever by a national political campaign to reach out to Latino voters – previously, such voters were ignored.

In Illinois, Chris Kennedy has developed a reputation as a guy who likes to talk about running for office, but doesn’t have the political will to follow through a campaign to its finish. Some political observers are convinced that Chris still doesn’t have what it takes, and will drop out before the primary.
Could it be that the lesson for Kennedy to figure how to get through an entire political campaign is to follow the examples of “Dad” and “Uncle Jack” and reach out to the group in Chicago that actually is on the rise? Although I doubt anybody will someday do songs in tribute to Chris the way Chicano activist/singer Lalo Guerrero did for his dad, Bobby.


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