White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has joined a potentially crowded field seeking the Chicago mayoral seat after incumbent Richard Daley announced he would not seek re-election.
Meanwhile the city’s Black ministers in an effort to zero-in on issues important to the African-American community recently gathered to decide whether they could throw their collective weight behind a single candidate.
According to the Associated Press, state Sen. James Meeks was last month listed among top possible vote getters in a straw poll of 100 ministers from Chicago’s South and West sides.
“I met with business leaders, I met with labor leaders, religious leaders, an individual who is a representative of the gay community,” said Meeks, one of Chicago’s prominent Black ministers, who was listed as a possible candidate on 70 percent of the ballots. He out-polled two Black members of the House, Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), who was listed on 60 percent of the lists, and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who tied for third with former Sen. Carol Mosley Braun (D-Ill.) on 32 percent of the lists.
Meeks is currently gathering the 12,500 signatures needed to have his name placed on the February ballot. He has also begun fundraising efforts, telling the AP, “It has reached the point where I’ve talked to a group of people who can write some fairly large checks.”
However, Emanuel comes to the race armed with a $1.75 million war chest, name recognition, and a knack for fundraising and is considered a heavyweight contender.
But that’s not enough for Chicago voters like Paul Johnson.
“The time and the era where candidates can come to the Black community and promise us the world and deliver nothing – those days are long gone,” Johnson told the AP.
“Now when candidates come to our community, they’re going to have to answer legitimate questions and they’re going to have to show what they’ve done in the past –and hasn’t done anything for us in the past.”