With the June 28 primary days away, Chicago’s Black political candidates seeking local, state and federal offices are turning up their campaigns with political ads and fresh endorsements, hoping to capture the respective Democratic nominations in what has been a crowded campaign season.
Amid heavy campaigning, crypto donors have emerged in the crowded race for Illinois First Congressional District.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is flooding the television airwaves with political ads, as she tries to fend off rival and former District 1 Commissioner Richard Boykin whom she helped unseat in 2018.
Unpopular among Black voters, Preckwinkle is fighting to keep her status as the modern day political “Boss” as Chairman of the Cook County Democrats, which has long been accused of being out of touch with the needs of Black voters.
After losing his re-election bid for a second term, Boykin won Chicago’s 18 Black wards but lost to eventual winner Iris Martinez in the Democratic race for Cook County Circuit Court Clerk in 2020. He was endorsed by longtime civil servant Dorothy Brown, former Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, who serves as his campaign consultant in his race to unseat Preckwinkle for the Cook County Board President seat.
In the race for Illinois Secretary of State, candidate David Moore, alderman of the 17th Ward, released an “integrity” political ad on YouTube as he faces a tough campaign against Anna Valencia and Alexi Giannoulias. In the ad, Moore builds off the career of outgoing incumbent Jesse White.
“He has run the office with great integrity and character while professionally conducting the business of the Secretary of State. I have decided to accept the call to build on such a rich legacy,” said Moore at his alma mater, Western Illinois University in Macomb on May 8, 2021.
Moore is the only candidate who circulated petitions for White in his first run for the statewide seat. Moore said he did it because the office was mired in corruption and scandal and White had a servant’s heart, which is what the office calls for.
One of the most heated races involves candidates seeking to replace longtime Congressman Bobby Rush in the First Congressional District, which has been held by a Black official since 1929, when Oscar De Priest served in U.S. House of Representatives.
Today, 17 Democratic candidates are vying for the seat, including front runners Alderman Pat Dowell, state Senator Jacqueline Collins, Rainbow PUSH activist Jonathan Jackson and Hyde Park businessman Jonathan Swain.
Jackson recently won the endorsement of former presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whom Jonathan’s father Reverend Jesse Jackson Jr. endorsed in the Democratic Presidential Primary in 2020.
“I was proud to have Jonathan Jackson as my state co-chair in 2020 and I’m proud to endorse Jonathan Jackson for Illinois’ First Congressional District,” Sanders previously said in a statement. “He has long been a fighter for working people and he will be a champion for Medicare for All and a Green New Deal in the Congress.”
Sanders visited Chicago on June 16 for a “Fighting Back Against Corporate Greed” rally at Teamsters Local 705, 1645 W. Jackson Blvd. He also spoke at the Labor Notes Conference meeting at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont.
In response to Sanders’ endorsement, Jackson said,
“It means that he looks forward to welcoming me to the capital and my being part of the congressional support to further our goals, which includes Medicare for All, voter protection, clean environment, and other important legislative initiatives.”
But Jackson has come under heavy fire from opponents in recent days for accepting over $1 million from businessmen from the crypto industry. As of Tuesday, June 21, Jackson accepted a total of $1,041,899 from the crypto industry, according to the Federal Election Commission.
The largest donation came from crypto billionaire Samuel Bankman-Fried, who bought $500,026 in television ads supporting Jackson under the political PAC “Protect Our Future.”
In response, Alderman Dowell, who earlier in the campaign season threw shade on Jackson by saying, “I’m a work horse, not a show horse,” released a statement criticizing his crypto support. She also blasted Jackson’s highly-publicized incident of not filing his personal finance disclosure forms. He told the Sun-Times that the incident occurred because he was not informed by people with whom he works.
“The voters of the First Congressional District deserve a leader they can trust, not one that will be influenced by dark money interests,” Dowell said.
“Additionally, Jackson has refused to file his personal financial disclosure forms – voters need to know who else is paying for him. What is he hiding? Our elections are not for sale. In America, voters choose elected officials, not billionaires. My elected office has always been in service to the people. As my political hero Shirley Chisholm said, I am Unbought and Unbossed!”
Collins, said, “As of today [June 20], he still hasn’t filed, and voters have no idea where the tens of thousands of dollars he’s loaned his campaign come from. Jackson needs to follow the law. Period.”
In a statement, Swain said First Congressional District voters “aren’t interested in outsiders determining who’s going to represent them in Congress. And let’s be honest, crypto issues are not what’s keeping people up at night, rising gas and grocery prices, cost of prescription drugs and safe communities is what they’re talking to me about. This is a historic district for the Black community, and I don’t think they’re ready to hand this race over to candidates who are willing to [be] bought by special interest billionaires.”
In the race for Cook County Tax Assessor, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago board president Kari Steele is challenging embattled incumbent Fritz Kaegi, who’s been endorsed by the Cook County Democrats.
But the table may turn on Kaegi, who in 2018 ran as an outsider to defeat Joe Berrios in a campaign where Kaegi promised to correct errors that benefitted wealthy downtown businessmen at the expense of struggling and less affluent homeowners. Now, Kaegi is in the same precarious situation as Berrios.
Unions and business leaders are angry over Kaegi’s revamped property assessments that have led to high tax bills and inaccurate adjustments to account for COVID-19’s impact and delayed the upcoming mailing of tax bills by several months.
Those groups are now supporting Steele, who has received numerous campaign donations, including $1 million from a fund backed by Local 150 and $170,000 more from other labor groups.
The daughter of John O. Steele, a former judge and alderman of the 6th Ward, Kari is trying to become Cook County’s first Black female tax assessor who has the potential of getting significant support from Black female voters, who historically have some of the highest turnout numbers among minority voters. Steele has endorsements and donations from powerful union groups, including Operating Engineers Local 150 and the Chicago Federation of Labor, and elected officials like popular outgoing Secretary of State Jesse White.