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Meeks talks to FNC about Rauner and the Democrats

Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014

* The Fox News Channel ran a story about former Democratic state Senator Rev. James Meeks’ support for Republican Bruce Rauner

“The Democratic party just assume always that 97 percent of the African-American vote will go to the Democratic party. If that assumption is true, they never have to work for our vote,” Meeks said.

He speaks of the gun violence that plagues Chicago’s West and South Sides, the poverty and the appearance that there is no end in sight. “Our schools are still broken and getting worse. We’re last in employment or business. Our neighborhoods are deplorable,” says Meeks. “And we still get the same promises from the Democratic party, but we don’t get any deliverable. I think it’s time we should look at another candidate.”

Chicago political analyst Thom Serafin says few Republicans have been able to win statewide in Illinois without collecting 20 percent of the city vote. To do that, a candidate must win a significant portion of the African-American vote. Serafin believes Meeks can deliver. “He understands what it means to turn out the vote here in the city. He is well respected,” he said. […]

Rauner has already had an opportunity to speak to the faithful at Salem Baptist and Meeks is talking with other pastors about getting Rauner to speak to more African-American congregations.

“I would hope that I would get a chance to influence a lot of African-Americans to look at how we, as a voting bloc, [are] being take

The first time I had a chance to see just how influential Meeks was came during a visit to Springfield by then Mayor Daley. Hizzoner was in town for various meetings, and either before or after walking into the governor’s office, Daley made sure to have a long chat with Meeks, who was standing nearby. Speaker Madigan did the same. Other powerful folks walked up to pay tribute.

He’s lost some of his juice since then - on-again-off-again runs for governor and mayor had a lot to do with it - but he still wields a bunch of influence in the city.

Rev. Meeks has the second largest congregation of any church in the state. He has so many churchgoers that the city has required him to station ambulances outside during services. His church building is the state’s largest, with as much square footage as the United Center. He also has a big, old Catholic church that he uses for youth services. It’s quite an impressive operation.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


42 Comments
  1. - DuPage - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    Money talks! Someone might have donated to his congregation.


  2. - Justsayin - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    DuPage - ya think? LOL


  3. - Jack - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:13 pm:

    I guess Meeks doesn’t need his state pension.


  4. - Walter Mitty - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:21 pm:

    Also, everything he said was true. Which should scare quite a few D’s….


  5. - Langhorne - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:21 pm:

    Ah, the power of fly fishin in your carhartts. I am trying to picture meeks in waders.


  6. - Hans Sanity - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:29 pm:

    Let’s play fill in the blank:

    The one place tax payers would support a property tax increase is ______________________ .


  7. - William j Kelly - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    Jesus would NEVER be able to afford ‘REVEREND’ meek’s support.


  8. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    The one place tax payers would support a property tax increase is

    not on non-profits, their temple, their church or their mosque.

    Some may. But not most.


  9. - Hans Sanity - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:37 pm:

    “….not on non-profits, their temple, their church or their mosque…”

    You’re probably right, Formerly, but it sure strikes a blow against omnipresence.


  10. - William j Kelly - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:40 pm:

    I bet stu Levine is wishing he could get a cut of that Pay to pray politics!


  11. - OneMan - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    attack the base, not a bad plan…

    As for Meeks being ‘purchased’, sorry not buying that. He has been pushing for some education stuff for a long time…


  12. - Bored Chairman - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    How dare Meeks question the Democrats! They promise so much, and say it so nicely. They must care. Meeks, who ya gonna believe? The Democrats or your lyin’ eyes?


  13. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    == The Fox News Channel ran a story ==

    I really don’t need any more information than that to know that the story was probably worthless.


  14. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    === it sure strikes a blow against omnipresence ===

    I’m recalling how hard it was for Rahm just making non-profits pay something like 40% of their water bills a few years ago.

    But with the way times are a changin’, Hans Sanity, you never know. If we don’t keep our fiscal house in order, this could be a very different story a couple years from now.


  15. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 12:59 pm:

    btw, your user name makes me chuckle every time I see it. One of my favorites.


  16. - ZC - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:01 pm:

    It’s lousy for the Dems in 2014 of course, but fundamentally, competition is good. Both parties competing for the support of African-Americans is good.

    Has anyone asked Meeks yet though what he thinks of the tax on millionaires to finance public education? The one Rauner opposes?


  17. - fed up - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:12 pm:

    I think Meeks like labor may not see eye to eye with the GOP on some issues but are tired of the Dems taking them for granted. Quinn might need a $50 million dollar slush fund to pass out some street money come election day, good thing he has experiance there


  18. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:27 pm:

    As far as I can tell, the primary contention with Meeks is that he supports vouchers which the teacher’s unions, Democrats, and the majority of his constituents oppose.

    I for one think it would be fun to have a roll call on a voucher bill that allowed students to go outside their school district of residence….say, from Chicago to Naperville or Elmhurst.

    I am guessing that legislation would have Republicans singing a different tune. The legislation they favor would perpetuate separate and unequal.


  19. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    Meeks didn’t just meet Rauner. Meeks didn’t just appear in front of his massive church. Meeks didn’t just gain popularity because of his race. Meeks didn’t just catch the ear of Daley and Madigan because they needed prayers.

    Meeks is a player and he is tired of seeing himself and his community of worshippers used every two years by the Democrats, then ignored.

    Who, besides me, know of Reverend Meeks’ neighborhood in South Chicago? You know what it is like to live there? Have you any idea how many funerals Reverend Meeks has had to tend to in this part of the City?

    Just how long are the South Siders supposed to watch their neighborhoods rot away and still support the same politicians?

    Reverend Meeks can’t be bought - that is the problem the politicians are having now. He actually wants to improve the lives of his church members every day, not just on Election Day.


  20. - Tom B. - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    As a guy who’s run a pretty robust campaign against his own party, and learned a few things along the way, let me tell you all a couple of truths:

    In the African American community in a D vs R race, you will not move more than a few points away from Team D. No matter how much money you spend, no matter what you say, that R next to your name seals the deal. Especially when Team D starts communicating.

    So, Mr. Meeks can say whatever he wants, but he’s swimming against the tide of history for these folks. One party fought for equal rights and continues that fight today, one does not. One party is the party of the middle class and the poor, and the other one calls them “takers.” One party sent the first black president to 1600 Pennsylvania, and the other has bitterly fought him every step of the way.

    Older African Americans are pretty used to voting, so their turnout levels are pretty stable. You can see that if you’ve stared at any 3 successive election returns in Chicago. So, you’re not going to affect turnout significantly.

    Meeks’ real value lies in showing independents in the burbs that Rauner isn’t the usual Republican and gives them the excuse they need to vote the way they tend not to vote. That’s it.

    So, I really hope Bruce spends lots of money on the street trying to get Chicago votes from African Americans. Means he’ll be stimulating the economy and driving out Quinn voters.


  21. - Downstater - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:37 pm:

    =Meeks is that he supports vouchers which the teacher’s unions, Democrats, and the majority of his constituents oppose=
    The majority of his constituents would love to have an alternative the to the rotten public schools. If they were so opposed, why is there so much demand for the voucher program?


  22. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:53 pm:

    he’s swimming against the tide of history for these folks

    History clearly shows these folks supporting Lincoln, anti-lynching laws, civil rights, Freemen’s Bureau, Grant, desegregation, the Civil Rights Act of 1958 and the GOP until LBJ’s Great Society in the 1960s.

    History is kind of funny that way. You think you know it, until you discover there is a lot more to learn.


  23. - cicero - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:55 pm:

    Tom B. makes a telling point. Republicans exhibit hostility for poor people, not sympathy.
    * The GOP opposes raising the minimum wage.
    * The GOP favors the death penalty, as well as the War on Drugs, both of which disproportionately affect African Americans.
    * IL Republicans much prefer our highly regressive state and local tax system to a progressive tax.

    In short, what policies that African Americans want do Republicans support? I can’t think of many.


  24. - cicero - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 1:58 pm:

    Carl. How about a bill that provides open public school enrollment statewide? If a school district has room, then students from elsewhere could enroll. That way poor kids could enroll in wealthy districts with shrinking enrollments. I know our Republican friends wouldn’t like that kind of educational choice.


  25. - Jimbo - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    Working black pastors was a brilliant tactic by the Ruaner campaign. I’m sure Meeks was especially receptive based on his support for vouchers. The problem I see is that to get those numbers in Chicago, past republicans needed to peel off black and union support. I’m not sure even Meeks can get AAs that have never voted R to do so because of school vouchers.


  26. - OneMan - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 2:18 pm:

    YDD –

    Live next to the Naperville districts (not in them), but I would have to say if some kid was motivated that much to take that bus ride, I am ok with that to some degree. Would have to keep the numbers in check.

    And having attended a going down SD as a kid, yeah a voucher option would have been nice.


  27. - fed up - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 2:56 pm:

    “If a school district has room, then students from elsewhere could enroll. That way poor kids could enroll in wealthy districts with shrinking enrollments.”

    This is a good idea as long as the receiving school gets the State money along with the student, and isnt responsible for the transportation costs. Just as long as when a dozen students from a failing school, travel to a higher achievment school, their isnt a demand to dumb down the curriculm


  28. - Chicago guy - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 3:09 pm:

    I’m sure Meeks is also upset about same-sex marriage.

    But I think he ultimately is looking at jobs for his supporters if Rauner wins.


  29. - Snucka - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 3:30 pm:

    Meeks is going to show independents that Rauner is “not the usual Republican”?? Kind of a stretch. Last I saw, independents are in favor of marriage equality by a wide margin. The support of a bigoted pastor will not help Mr. Rauner among the voters he needs to win over.


  30. - LincolnLounger - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 4:00 pm:

    Nice campaign speech, by the way, Tom B. When I am on the south and west sides of Chicago, inner city Decatur, the east side of Springfield, and ESL, I can see all the wonderful things that the hammer-hold Democrats have had on IL government for the last decade have delivered to the African-American community.


  31. - A guy... - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 4:28 pm:

    There are 2 options to offer here: Vote for a Republican or Stay home. Either and both could doom Quinn.


  32. - Snucka - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 4:28 pm:

    The Z Team will take care of Thornton Township, which is where most of Meeks’ former constituents are located.


  33. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 4:31 pm:

    Has Meeks ever revealed his salary from his church and related entities? Their camaraderie may be in part because they are both 1%-ers.


  34. - William j Kelly - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 4:54 pm:

    Paid at last! Paid at last! Thank Bruce almight! Iam paid at last!


  35. - William j Kelly - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 4:59 pm:

    All bow your heads in the name of the dollar, the other dollar and the holy dollar AMEN!


  36. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 5:19 pm:

    ==There are 2 options to offer here: Vote for a Republican or Stay home.==

    “Funny, that church van didn’t show up to drive me to the polls.” That’s one way to get them to stay home.


  37. - ZC - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 5:42 pm:

    Some of the posts on this thread above do as good a job as any indicating why African-Americans tend to stick with the Democratic party, despite any frustrations they may have with the Democrats’ leadership.


  38. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 7:58 pm:

    You think ZC?

    My favorite one is: I am okay with blacks coming to my suburban school district, as long as it is not too many.

    Let me tell you: parents are driving their kids an hour to subpar charter schools, I will personally spearhead a nonprofit to provide bus transport from Englewood to Naperville or Humboldt Park to Westchester.

    But it ain’t gonna happen.

    Meeks voucher bill specifically only allowed students to use their vouchers at private schools.

    He took heat because his church just happens to operate a private school. Like others here, I don’t think Meeks is motivated by personal financial gain. But the recent problems at UNO are a reminder of the potential for abuse when large sums of money flood out into any sector…nonprofit, govt or private, as was the NRI.

    Meeks voucher program was pegged to cost $108 million…and that was just a pilot program, just for Chicago. It ain’t clear at all how you would come up with the funding.

    It gets worse.

    I should write an essay on it.


  39. - Ghost of John Brown - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 10:05 pm:

    I laugh to read the first several people insinuate that Meeks was bought. Hmmmmm, Can’t quite remember anyone ever talk about Chicago ministers being bought when the candidate is a Democrat. I’m sure that would neeeevvvvvveeeer happen, right?


  40. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Apr 8, 14 @ 11:29 pm:

    Ghost -

    You’re kidding, right?

    Everyone immediately claimed the entire purpose of the Neighborhood Recovery Act was to put money in the pockets of congregations.

    And the Sun-Times broke the story of a minister who was funded by CPS in turn paying folks to attend public hearings and support “school reform.”

    The only thing that makes the accusation unique is that Rauner is a Republican.

    I just don’t buy it. Not Meeks or Hatch.


  41. - William j Kelly - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 8:55 am:

    Blessed are the hustlers for they will inherit the grant money


  42. - William j Kelly - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 9:05 am:

    Reverend please go back and check your bible it’s the beatitudes not the B(*tch) attitude!


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