Some may dismiss one-time Illinois Senate President Emil Jones as “crass,” but Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy is banking that he can turn the March 20 primary into a one-on-one fight with J.B. Pritzker – the man who has support from much of the Democratic establishment of Illinois.
For Kennedy, whom some polls indicate has been caught by third candidate Daniel Biss, is the guy using radio spots featuring the gravelly voice of Jones to appeal to the African-American portion of the electorate.
PRITZKER HAS BEEN ahead in various polls, indicating his self-provided millions have been effective in getting his name recognition out there. But he’s also made his share of gaffes indicating he may have offended potential black voters.
Which has Kennedy going in for the kill.
He’s hoping that becoming the gubernatorial candidate of choice for black people will put him back in the running against Pritzker. Because it could make Biss’ attempt to appeal to a certain segment of white people insufficient to win overall.
For what it’s worth, Jones uses his minute of time in the radio spot to remind an older generation of African-Americans just who Kennedy’s father (Bobby) and uncle (Jack) were.
THE MAN WE recently learned was belittled by Pritzker (in private conversations a decade ago with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich) tells us how the Kennedys, “fought and struggled and sacrificed alongside Dr. (Martin Luther) King (Jr.) in the civil rights movement,” and also tells us that Chris would continue on in “the Kennedy way.”
Indicating that Kennedy is banking on the black vote to turn out in strong enough force to enable him to overcome those polls of late that say Biss has actually overcome Kennedy to be the serious challenger to Pritzker.
Actually, what the polls say is that there remains a strong-enough share of people who are undecided in the Democratic primary, with Pritzker, Biss and Kennedy all following behind.
This primary may be just a month in the future, but it is far from settled.
PERHAPS THE KENNEDY campaign is influenced by that PPP poll (conducted for Our Revolution Illinois/Chicago) that shows amongst potential black voters, Kennedy is not only second behind Pritzker (38 percent to 31 percent), Biss is virtually irrelevant (7 percent).
And when it comes to the Latino vote, Kennedy is actually the leader (31 percent to 28 percent), with Biss only at 14 percent.
Perhaps it is the spirit of the Viva Kennedy clubs of old that enabled Chris’ uncle, Jack, to win the 1960 presidential bid, but it may well be a combination of the Latino and black vote that keeps the Kennedy gubernatorial dreams alive.
And ensures that the suburban white segment of the Democratic primary electorate that actually takes Biss seriously never grows into a larger coalition that could actually win the March 20 primary.
IT MAKES ME wonder if this campaign advertising spot (which is airing on the Chicago radio stations appealing to African-American listeners) is going to be the first of many the Kennedy campaign will issue.
Will we see every ethnic and racial name dredged up to make endorsements in hopes they will sway more non-Anglo voters to turn out for the primary election – hoping they will be the kind of voters who will not easily be swayed by the millions of dollars that Pritzker could put into his own campaign for governor.
Which, to be honest, seems to be the primary factor that wins over the support of his political backers. They like the idea of someone who won’t be constantly hitting them up for more money in order to pay for his campaign.
Although it should be noted that with the dozens of millions of dollars that Gov. Bruce Rauner has committed to campaigns for himself and for allies in the General Assembly, even Pritzker will be grossly outspent in a campaign battle for the Nov. 6 general election.