* For months, the common belief was that Gov. Pat Quinn was going to pick a black running mate. That didn’t happen, of course, and now at least some African-American politicians are expressing frustration. The Sun-Times interviewed several, but here are two…
“He just blew it,” [Ald. Carrie Austin ] said.
“Kwame Raoul, Will Burns, Stephanie Neely. What happened to those individuals on your short-list that you would erase them off the list completely and go totally to another individual. We should have had some kind of forewarning that this is another individual on the short list that I have been talking with. But, to say nothing?…I’m upset with my governor now. . . .I can speak for [Ward] 34 and it ain’t lookin’ good.”
Austin said it’s entirely possible that, without a Democratic challenger, Quinn is taking the African-American vote for granted and appealing to a broader constituency by choosing Vallas. […]
“All of us are scratching our heads from a political standpoint. We were under the impression he was pursuing a Stephanie Neely, a prominent black businesswoman, maybe a Jehon Gordon, someone who’s very current with people right now in general,” said [Rep. Ken Dunkin], head of the Joint Legislative Black Caucus.
“With Paul Vallas, the only people who remember him are people like you and myself,” Dunkin said in an interview with the Sun-Times. “I think it would have boded well for [Quinn] to have cut across generational lines and ethnic lines.
Dunkin said Quinn is highly regarded by black voters and that perhaps in Vallas, the governor was looking for someone who would bolster his showing in the collar counties. But Vallas’ disadvantage is having been absent from Illinois’ political landscape for so long, he said.
* But not all black politicos are upset. Ald. Walter Burnett…
“Some elected African-American officials are going to be disappointed, but I think Paul Vallas was sensitive to our community when he was over at the Board of Education — making sure kids get eyeglasses, making sure they get a good education, building schools, making schools safer. He showed that he really cared. And he did not only here in Chicago, he did it all over the country. He predominantly worked for African American causes. . . . Overall I think it’s a plus.”
Burnett said he could understand the disappointment of many colleagues in Quinn’s failure to pick an African-American candidate.
“We were expecting it, and it was being entertained, so we thought it was going to happen,” Burnett said. “But Paul Vallas is not a bad choice. He comes out of left field, but Paul Vallas showed his commitment to the African-American community a long time ago. He worked for the schools. . . . His heart is in the right place. But I think it is smart of the governor to get somebody who has a fiscal management brain, like Paul Vallas. Paul Vallas balanced many budgets with the city of Chicago. So I think it’s a good choice.”
Burnett also suggested Vallas was picked as a way to counter Republican claims that Quinn was not up to the fiscal management of the state. “I think he just check-mated them on that, because I don’t think you can get anyone who is more of a fiscal manager than a Paul Vallas. So I think he just check-mated the Republicans.”