Friday, November 12, 2010

Black Coalition: Lost Opportunity

Charles Thomas political reporter at the local ABC affiliate on the attempt by many in the Black community to bring back the era that resulted in the election of Harold Washington as my city's first Black Mayor.
From the moment it announced it would interview only black prospective candidates, the Coalition was doomed.

  The election of the city's third African-American mayor would require a multi-racial coalition because the "non-partisan" process adopted in 1995 requires the eventual winner to achieve 50% plus one.   The Coalition acted as though it was the 1980's when a democratic black plurality could carry the day in a primary and their candidate would automatically win the general election against a republican.

  Alderman Walter Burnett (27th Ward)--who chaired the Coalition--says he fought for a more inclusive process but was shouted down by "Old Schoolers" who wanted to replicate the 1983 selection of Congressman Harold Washington as the black community's "consensus" candidate.
A sign that some of the players who've been around 30-40 or so years needs to go.

You know these last two or so years has been disappointing. Yeah we got a Black President, but year before he became President he wasn't taken very seriously by the Black politicos in Chicago. He gets elected in 2008 and they're solidly behind him. Hell they wanted to ask him for stuff when he may not have owed them much.

We had two opportunities to elect Blacks to US Senate and to statewide offices this year. As a matter of fact we could have elected a Black woman to the US Senate again! And at that she would've succeeded the Black man who holds the seat now. He just so happened to have been appointed in a controversial fashion by a Governor who was on his way out. And he was aided and abetted by a US Rep who basically raised the race card for anyone who dared oppose this because well the Senate isn't exactly known as a body of great diversity. Oh and at that, this US Senate seat was vacated by the aforementioned Black President.

Also we could've had a Black Lt. Governor. Unfortunately he also had a Black challenger in the primary who mainly jumped in because of a rivalry. This guy was in second place and many Black politicos wanted him to be the nominee when the winner of that Lt. Governor primary race withdrew because we found out a little too much about his personal life. Needless to say however despite the rumblings the Governor who wanted a term in his own right selected a downstate woman as his Lt. Governor running mate.

Finally two blacks this year ran for state Treasurer and Comptroller respectively. They both lost! This year we could've had three (or four if there had been a black for Lt. Governor) in statewide office. We already have one as Secretary of State.

OK my point is that the opportunity to put blacks in important positions in the city of Chicago or even the state itself have been blown once too often. Some of which is due to short-sighted decisions made all too often. It's OK to have a Black Senator, but you should want to be sure that this person can stay in that seat. It's OK to have a Black Lt. Governor, but be sure this individual can win the race. It's OK to want a black mayor, but you also want someone who can win. At that you want someone who can be effective enough to stick around.

In the case of Roland Burris, Rep. Bobby Rush may have had the right idea, but bad execution. It was about having a Black man in the US Senate, not merely finding one who might have the ability to remain in the Senate. And when a Black (Cheryle Jackson) did step forward to run for Obama's old Senate seat well where was Bobby Rush? In fact where were they for state Rep. Art Turner, state Rep. David Miller, or even Robin Kelly.

And surely it would've helped as Rich Miller stated on his blog:
It would’ve also helped if Miller and Kelly had put together better campaigns on their own, of course. Nothing attracts campaign assistance like success.
Another way to view this. Thomas wanted to see if this coalition could reduce the number of Black aspirants for Mayor. That's all great and good, however, perhaps this form of "anarchy" is good. We may see who may well be capable of running a good campaign that can bring success.

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