* My Crain’s Chicago Business column was turned in Thursday afternoon, before all the Friday hubbub…
So far, all but one of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates have chosen a running mate. And all but one of those candidates have chosen an African-American running mate. And all but two of those candidates have chosen a female African-American running mate.
You won’t find any more loyal, dedicated Democratic voters than black women. Perhaps because of this, the party too often seems to take them for granted.
Picking candidates as window dressing can sometimes backfire, but J.B. Pritzker’s choice is about as qualified as a running mate can get. State Rep. Juliana Stratton, D-Chicago, is the director of the Center for Public Safety & Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She founded a mediation services firm and has a long history dealing with the issue of violence, which is, of course, a big issue today. You may remember she defeated state Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, after he sided with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on a couple of key issues. She proved to be a tireless and capable campaigner, and she quickly showed real legislative chops in Springfield.
State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, initially chose a young, gay, Latino Chicago alderman as his running mate, but that didn’t work out. The guy just wasn’t ready for prime time. Biss corrected his mistake by choosing state Rep. Litesa Wallace, D-Rockford, who has a doctorate in educational psychology, which likely gives us our first gubernatorial ticket with two Ph.D.s (Biss’ is in mathematics). Wallace hasn’t been around the Statehouse very long, but she’s quite popular and a good public speaker with a human touch that the wonky Biss lacks. Biss had been aiming at the Bernie Sanders vote with his choice of Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, and Wallace was a Hillary Clinton delegate to last year’s convention, but she has a solidly progressive voting record.
Chris Kennedy was the last of the top-tier candidates to choose a running mate, partly because the party apparatus has been pretty much conquered by Pritzker. So he went outside the party to choose Ra Joy, an African-American man from Chicago’s South Side who ran Change Illinois, a campaign and government reform group.
Kennedy told me he was recently in the Bronzeville neighborhood meeting with a group of young African-American men. One of them, a 30-year-old attorney, said he and people like him were going to teach the Democratic Party a lesson and not vote. They had voted for Democrats for years and nothing has changed. Joy, Kennedy said, will help combat that apathy because he has long fought for change. We’ll see.
Go read the rest, please.
* Speaking of Kennedy, he told Bernie the same thing as he said to some other reporters last week…
Kennedy told me that members of Pritzker’s “enormous” campaign team have been “working the refs,” in this case, reporters and columnists.
“I think they’ve concluded they can’t beat me in the primary, and so they want to try to get me to drop out, so they spread rumors that I’m about to drop out,” Kennedy said.
“That sort of thing doesn’t work with me,” Kennedy added. “I’m the smallest of seven brothers. … They’ll have to swing a lot harder to get me out.”
Responded Pritzker spokeswoman GALIA SLAYEN: “Our campaign is focused on building a professional operation that can go toe-to-toe with Bruce Rauner and hold him accountable every day for the damage he has done to Illinois. Instead of complaining about press to the press, Chris Kennedy’s time would be better spent showing voters why he’s the best candidate to beat Bruce Rauner.”
Good advice. Whining that the other campaign has a stronger team is not a good look.