The Crusader Newspaper Group

A happy ending for Kennedy or fairy tales?

By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader

Camelot is gaining momentum in securing Chicago’s Black vote.

On Wednesday, February 27, some of Chicago’s prominent Black clergymen blessed Kennedy with an endorsement, giving a stinging rebuke to his opponent and political corruption with just three weeks left before the Democratic Primary on March 20.

At a press conference in the basement of Quinn Chapel AME Church, Kennedy delivered what might be his strongest words yet against an opponent who led the Democratic race for governor before February 5, when an FBI audiotape surfaced. Pritzker is heard making derogatory comments regarding several Black leaders during a conversation with disgraced governor Rod Blagojevich.

The remarks sent Pritzker’s campaign in the Black community into a tailspin, sending him on an apology tour and giving Kennedy’s bid for Springfield fresh hope and the momentum it desperately needs.

In pointed remarks Kennedy said, “We believe in the separation of church and state, but we don’t believe in the separation of morality and politics. We don’t believe in the separation of ethics and government. That’s what this election is about. Do you want someone to lead this state who has a moral framework and ethical background, who knows the difference between right and wrong; or do you prefer someone like JB Pritzker?”

Kennedy’s running mate for lieutenant governor, activist Ra Joy noted, “Some people are running on issues, we’re running on values. Some people are running to change the government. We’re running to fix a broken system that continues to oppress many people in Illinois. Some people are on an apology tour. We’re on a commitment tour. The Kennedy-Joy administration will be the most inclusive, participatory administration this state has ever seen. We’ll reinvest in communities that have been forgotten and forsaken under the destructive term of (Governor) Bruce Rauner.”

With his prominent political roots, Kennedy is using Pritzker’s struggles to reaffirm his anti-political-establishment campaign, which seeks to court voters who have grown disillusioned with Governor Bruce Rauner during his four years in office.

Kennedy has been endorsed by Congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny K. Davis, and a handful of other Black leaders.

Kennedy still lags behind Pritzker and Biss in the latest polls and more than ever, Chicago’s Black electorate remains divided in the political season. Pritzker still has more Black leaders than Kennedy behind him. Some Black clergy met with Pritzker days after he was overheard making derogatory comments against Black leaders, but few pastors have since come out publicly to support him. At Chicago’s oldest church on Wednesday, Reverend Ira Acree and Reverend Marshall Hatch were unapologetic in attacking Pritzker while praising Kennedy as a public servant whom they believe can be trusted to serve the Black community as Illinois governor.

Kennedy joined pastors Acree and Hatch in attacking Pritzker as he struggles with repairing his image after mocking pastor Jeremiah Wright and calling former State Senator Emil Jones “crass.” At Quinn Chapel, Kennedy invoked his family’s rich legacy in politics and commitment to civil rights for Blacks. Kennedy also noted his late father’s popularity with Blacks, noting the upcoming 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

He criticized opponent Daniel Biss, but Kennedy leveled his heaviest attacks against Pritzker, a billionaire whom he accused of cheating on his taxes by hiring lobbyists for businesses in which he has investments.

“This is a critical election not only in our state but in our country. The question at hand is can these public officers be bought by billionaires?” said Hatch. “These offices are the people’s offices. We need to make a statement in Illinois that the governor’s office cannot be bought and neither can we. I’m supporting Chris Kennedy because he is not a politician. He is a public servant. And he has not just started serving the public. Given the statistics that Rev. Acree and others have, this wide disparity between the rich and the poor is choking the life out of our democracy. We need to make a statement. We need to send the word that it’s time to get back to those values where everybody matters. We need Chris Kennedy more than he needs us.”

Acree said, “It’s time for a leader with vision and time for a leader with courage. Illinois needs someone who will not bow to the party bosses. That person without a doubt is Chris Kennedy. If you recently listened to Mr. Pritzker on his apology tour for his disparaging remarks against influential leaders, he sounded like a typical party hack whose number one goal is to keep the status quo and keep the African American community oppressed. I listened attentively to Chris Kennedy and this man has made a believer out of me.”


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