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Pritzker hit from all sides

Thursday, Feb 8, 2018

* Mary Mitchell

J.B. Pritzker got busted.

Pritzker can apologize over and over again for the racial remarks he made a decade ago, which were captured on a FBI wiretap of former Gov. Blagojevich’s phone, but — he’s busted.

He got caught saying the very things that a lot of black people suspect white people say when there are no black people in the room.

Pritzker, the billionaire in the Democratic primary for governor, positioned himself as a candidate who genuinely cares about the black condition.

He was strategic is picking a black running mate, Juliana Stratton, and quickly lined up a slew of black elected officials to support him.

But Pritzker’s remarks about three African-American politicians during a private conversation show he didn’t have much respect for black politicians, let alone the black community.

* CBS 2

Wednesday afternoon, activist Jedidiah Brown went to a South Side Pritzker campaign office allegedly to get answers about Pritzker’s comments. He did it while on Facebook Live, and after a loud confrontation, was asked to leave the office, which he eventually did. Just another sign that this controversy isn’t over.

That video is here. Brown tried to attend today’s Pritzker meeting with black ministers on the West Side while doing a Facebook Live event. There’s some profanity in both of these vids, but click here to watch if you want.

* Gov. Rauner was asked about Pritzker’s caught on tape comments today

It’s incredibly disrespectful and demeaning and manipulative and it shows how broken our political system is, with this machine that he’s been part of.

* Eric Zorn

“Crass” is a problematic adjective. It comes from the Latin crassus, which translates to “thick” or “dense” in both the literal and figurative senses. But in contemporary usage, crass has come to mean without refinement or subtlety, as in the crass commercialism of Christmas or the crass rhetoric of President Donald Trump.

Jones, now retired, was old-school — a powerful political insider and canny deal-maker strongly identified with Chicago, where he’d once worked as a sewer inspector. He likely would have had a tougher time winning re-election to the U.S. Senate than White, who’d consistently demonstrated his popularity at the polls statewide.

But “crass”? And just a “little more crass” than White, who was, by implication, therefore, also somewhat crass? Would Pritzker have used that word to describe top Caucasian politicians?

And would he have described the most plausible Caucasian candidate as the “least offensive” option, as he did Jesse White, instead of, say, the “most acceptable” option?

* Sneed

A mild-mannered Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), whose father was Chicago’s second black mayor — Eugene Sawyer — has some advice for the bombastic former Senate President Emil Jones, who blasted black pols Tuesday supporting Dem gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker as being “meek” and “safe” blacks.

“[His father, former Mayor Eugene Sawyer] taught me to make friends; enemies come on their own.

“Being disagreeable doesn’t always bring everything to the table and get the most benefit for your community.

“And I disagree with Emil’s use of the word ‘safe’ black. It’s important to be an electable black.”

* Greg Hinz

What in heaven’s name was Pritzker doing palling around with Blagojevich? No, the governor hadn’t yet been indicted. But there was intense chatter at the time about what the feds were up to. Pritzker was clearly interested in snagging some sort of government job, and he ignored the flashing yellow lights in pursuing it with Blagojevich.

One might say much the same about Pritzker’s refusal to distance himself from Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan in the same way that Kennedy and Biss have. He’s clearly calculated that being kinda nice to Mike will net him more than ticking the speaker off will.

That tendency—cozying up—is something Pritzker has yet to fully explain. And it bothers me a lot more than his actual comments, though I admit I’m not in a perfect position to lecture black people about how they should feel about such disparaging remarks.

The gubernatorial campaign still has a little time to go. We’ll see what Pritzker does next to make this right—though apologies can only go so far to fix the real, underlying problem, which is how willing he may or may not be to speak truth to those who wield power.

* Kass

“J.B.’s running around town, calling people, apologizing, and people are saying he needs to show the community some love,” a prominent African-American politician told me Wednesday.

“But love isn’t enough. J.B’s got to show us some glove,” the politico said.

“Glove?” I asked. “G-l-o-v-e, glove?”

“Yeah, glove,” he laughed. “That’s love with a ‘g’ on it. You understand?”

Yes, I do.

And you spell “glove” this way: $$$$.

* Pritzker also dropped by the Chicago Defender for an interview. Not much there, but click here.

* Related…

* WVON: JB Pritzker Joins Maze and Charles to discuss his comments on FBI Tapes

* WVON: Cliff Kelley Discusses JB Pritzker with Emil Jones

* Running mate defends Pritzker over wiretapped remarks: Stratton, in Springfield for legislative session, said what Pritzker “did yesterday is what I would expect any of us who have perhaps made a misstep or done something we’re not necessarily proud of. We admit what it was, we apologize for it.” “But we also point to the things that countered what happened nine years ago and show all the things that (Pritzker’s) done throughout his career and all the things we’ve done on the campaign trail and all the things we expect to do for the people of Illinois once we defeat this failed governor we have now,” Stratton said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments »
  1. - Responsa - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 3:43 pm:

    ==He got caught saying the very things that a lot of black people suspect white people say when there are no black people in the room.==

    I saw this Mitchell article on the ST website last night and this line especially stood out. I thought oh wow, did she nail it. That’s the problem for JB right there in a nutshell.


  2. - Leonard Washington - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 3:49 pm:

    The flood is comin. Oh the water is a’risin.


  3. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 3:49 pm:

    I think it’s safe to say most of us have had private conversations that we never dreamed would become public. It must be horrifying to hear your voice saying those things, knowing the entire world can hear it now too.

    I think Pritzker is doing the only thing he can do: apologize to the people he hurt and offended. And wait for new events to change the topic.

    But for those who seem only too eager to pile on Pritzker over this, do any of you think Emil Jones, Danny Davis or Jesse Jackson was the best candidate Rod could have named to replace Obama?

    Harry Reid didn’t think so either. It’d be fun to hear that tape.


  4. - Just Visiting - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 3:51 pm:

    It takes a lotta work to hit Pritzker from all sides


  5. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 3:53 pm:

    Kass always comes up with the most amazing, perfect quotes from anonymous sources. He has a real gift for it.


  6. - Actual Red - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 3:57 pm:

    47th —
    I don’t think that’s really the issue. I think Zorn’s actually got it right — would Pritzker have said the same thing about a white politician, regardless of how qualified they were? To me, the issue is the implication that a black appointee is intrinsically a problem that needs to be handled. I suspect that this really is how a lot of white people talk about black people when they aren’t in the room. Doesn’t make it ok.


  7. - JS Mill - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 3:58 pm:

    Sorry, calling someone “crass” isn’t racist.

    Unlike Rauner, Pritzker has been front and center to deal with the issue. Rauner runs away like a child to hide from his issues.

    Pritzker will apologize enough and to the right people and will get through this issue. The only “if” is if there is more of this down the road.

    I wonder what his operation is busy digging up on his opponents?


  8. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 4:00 pm:

    re: Jedidiah Brown

    I hate seeing this stuff because all it does is cause problems for the lowest people on the campaign totem, the field organizers. Grow up and try storming HQ.

    ==- 47th Ward - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 3:49 pm:==

    Harry Reid’s been burned before by the reporting of private conversations.


  9. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 4:05 pm:

    ===To me, the issue is the implication that a black appointee is intrinsically a problem that needs to be handled===

    I didn’t hear it that way at all. Look, everyone knew that when it came time to appointing a replacement for an African-American U.S. Senator, there would be a heavy expectation that the replacement also be, obviously, an African-American. Valerie Jarrett comes to mind, as did Jesse White.

    But yes, I get it too. Two white guys talking about picking the “best” African-American replacement is problematic. I think it’s interesting to note that Harry Reid and Pritzker had basically the same opinion on the subject, but since only one of them is having that conversation broadcast all over Illinois, no one knows what Rod and Harry said to one another.

    I’ve shared my opinion of politicians I know and have worked with with others, and what I say privately is often vastly different than how I’d say it if I knew others were listening. I think that’s true of most people.

    That’s why I’m not reading more into this than what I’ve said. The tapes are ugly. JB can’t change what he said. He’s apologizing. Not much more he can do.

    There but for the grace of God go I (and many, many others).


  10. - Arsenal - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 4:15 pm:

    ==would Pritzker have said the same thing about a white politician, regardless of how qualified they were?==

    Yeah, probably. He’s pretty flippant throughout what we’ve heard. Maybe that’s it’s own problem, but it’s not racial.


  11. - Responsa - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 4:23 pm:

    I’d like to hear from commenters in other parts of the state. Are the Blago-JB tapes and especially this tape getting air time and print play similar to what Rich has presented here and what those of us in the Chicago metro area are seeing and hearing?


  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 4:28 pm:

    Tonight he will be hit by the snow storm of the north


  13. - Sue - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 4:30 pm:

    Regardless of his money and countless commercials J.B. is only the machine favorite because if the Dems don’t need money for the G race Madigan can spend the Dem warchest on the legislative races which he only really cares about. It’s just a despicable reality of the Mike Madigan universe


  14. - Henry Francis - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 4:36 pm:

    Well . . . Maybe JB is lucky this came out now, 9 months before the general election. Of course this assumes he survives the primary and there aren’t worse skeletons coming out of his closet.


  15. - Actual Red - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 4:38 pm:

    47th —
    I agree he’s doing about the best he can with it, and I agree just about everyone, myself included, has said things in private that look bad when out in public.

    I think this is bad for Pritzker in the way that every previous oppo hit has been bad for him. There hasn’t been any single bombshell that makes him unelectable on it’s own. But it feels like every week we get some new way in which JB behaved like an out of touch plutocrat.

    I don’t really have any personal animus against the guy. He’s done plenty of good with his philanthropy, and from what I hear he’s an overall good person.

    I worry that the negatives will keep piling up and depress turnout if he makes it to the general.


  16. - Actual Red - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 4:42 pm:

    Arsenal —
    Sorry if I wasn’t clear — I don’t doubt he would make disparaging comments about white politicians. It’s the way in which he disparages them.

    We’ve kind of come to an agreement as a society that as long as you don’t say the n-word, you can chalk it up to something other than race. 9 times out of 10, though, racism is propagated in way more subtle ways.

    I have no idea if JB Pritzker actively dislikes black people - in fact I suspect he does not. But that doesn’t mean racial bias doesn’t inflect things he says and does, and it doesn’t mean we as voters shouldn’t take that into consideration.


  17. - Hello, it’s ME - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 4:49 pm:

    Did everyone forget that Emil held up ethics reforms so Rod could accept political contributions from state contractors? Wasn’t that a Radogno ethics bill? How about Emil’s wife receiving that nice pay raise after they got married- was it a 60% raise? How about the time Emil protected ComEd from the utility rate rollback? And remember when he announced his retirement and people thought the appointment of his son would hurt Obama?

    History speaks for itself without making this a racial issue.

    And to the Bernie/Biss supporters on Facebook calling on Pritzker to drop out as a result of his comments regarding the progressive African American leader and Illinois legend Emil Jones… They do realize if Pritzker drops out most his supporter will go with Kennedy? And do they realize Emil Jones is supporting their opponent, Chris Kennedy?


  18. - Duopoly - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 4:54 pm:

    I always thought “least offensive” applied to candidate choices in our destructive 2-party system.


  19. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 4:58 pm:

    47, very good point. Most of us might find our “best self” is not the one revealed in private conversations. Seems to me that Rod had a way of bringing out the worst in people, too.

    Responsa, in Springfield we’re still getting the “old” Rauner commercials with the “JB-$10-15 million” schtick, imo the least effective spot of the batch. Haven’t heard a peep on this tape yet from local media.


  20. - Sue - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 5:43 pm:

    Hey- if you haven’t watched the Facebook segment of Jedidiah Brown on the link above- take the time and watch if. It’s priceless entertainment


  21. - Sue - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 5:47 pm:

    The issue isn’t whether J.B. likes or dislikes Blacks- the issue is that he like the rest of the a democratic leadership routinely take the Black vote for granted. Every other November the Dems exploit minorities by to use Nancy Pelosi language- they throw minorities crumbs get the vote and then forget about them for another 20 months


  22. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 6:12 pm:

    Sue, when you express your sincere heartfelt concern like that, it makes me wonder why the GOP can’t make any inroads among black voters.

    I kid.


  23. - quincy - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 7:12 pm:

    J B still the right man for the job. Ive heard my own good black friends run down their own color just like whites do. So lets take a good look at ho can govern better, a crazey white guy ho can’t even get along with his own party. or at least a white guy who can apologizes for what he said years ago. To me your more of a person if you apologizes then one that won’t like Rauner for all he has said and do over the last 3yrs


  24. - Hottot - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 7:25 pm:

    The wolf climbing the hill is always hungrier than the one that’s on top. The same people of color who endorsed JB Pritzker are standing by him. Some may say because of moneu, which I doubt, but either way, they still believe in him. Rauner knows he can’t match JB on spending, and is in the biggest fight of his short political career. He’s throwing everything at him because he knows his days as governor are numbered.


  25. - SSL - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 8:38 pm:

    Those that endorsed JB are standing by him, for now. If this thing continues to snowball, we’ll see if they start to distance themselves. There are plenty of people who are not pleased, and when the commercials start playing, some voters who were undecided may make a decision.

    There better not be anymore JB wiretap discussions released.


  26. - Olivia Pope - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 9:43 pm:

    —- Sue - Thursday, Feb 8, 18 @ 5:43 pm:

    Hey- if you haven’t watched the Facebook segment of Jedidiah Brown on the link above- take the time and watch if. It’s priceless entertainment—-

    Sue if it is the video that I watched on Facebook, well… I’m disappointed in how some of the the pastors behaved (aka Jed). The language used before they entered the room with JB was unbecoming of a pastor. Jed went in there with one mission and that was not to listen and build peace. He went in there to be confrontational.

    If that is how pastors in Chicago behave, then I have words….


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