Willie Wilson lost all 18 Black wards in U.S. Senate race

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Willie Wilson

Crusader analyses show how Black wards voted in various races

By Erick Johnson

Businessman Willie Wilson, once a rising star in the Black community, lost all 18 Black wards in a crushing defeat to Senator Dick Durbin in Tuesday’s General Election, according to the Crusader analysis of results released from the Chicago Board of Elections.

The Crusader analysis also revealed that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx swept all 18 of Chicago’s Black wards in her reelection victory against Republican Pat O’Brien. The 18 Black wards also voted heavily in favor of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the Illinois Fair Tax Amendment, which was defeated in a statewide election.

Perhaps the most dramatic election result in the 18 Black wards was the U.S. Senate race that came down to the top three finishers: Durbin, Wilson and Republican challenger Mark Curran, Jr.

Wilson joined the race in 2019 and ran as an independent candidate from the Wilson Party in the General Election instead of the Democratic Party. His independent status allowed Wilson to avoid clashing with the heavily backed Durbin in the Democratic Primary.

However, Wilson’s bid for the U.S. ended in a stunning defeat in his bid to unseat Durbin, who won all 18 Black wards. Election data show that Wilson finished second to Durbin in all 18 Black wards but ahead of Republican candidate Mark Curran, Jr.

Overall, Durbin received a total of 243,193 votes from the Black wards, or 75.94 percent of the Black vote. Durbin received 70 percent of the vote in 16 Black wards and won over 80 percent of the vote in the 4th and 5th wards, election data show.

There were 16 Black wards where Wilson received less than 20 percent of the vote.

In 2019, Wilson rose to prominence after winning 13 Black wards in the mayoral election. His performance led Cook County Board President and mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle to seek his endorsement, which he declined.

Wilson added to his profile with a $1 million cash giveaway initiative that included visits to Black churches where he gave money to church members struggling to pay their tax bills. Critics and news reports alleged Wilson was trying to buy votes during his campaign.

Wilson also paid the cash bail for 12 Cook County detainees. During the pandemic, Wilson donated hundreds of face masks to community organizations.

Wilson ran against Durbin, believing the longtime incumbent grew out of touch with the Black community and had taken the Black vote for granted.

But Wilson may have alienated Black voters when he accepted an endorsement from Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police Union, whose President John Catanzara praised Wilson for his support for the union.

Meanwhile, Durbin racked up a several endorsements from prominent Black leaders, including Congressman Danny K. Davis, Alderman Emma Mitts (37th Ward), Alderman Walter Burnett (27th Ward), Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, Cook County Commissioner Dennis Deer, Alderman Jason Ervin (28th Ward), State Representative Camille Lilly, MWRD Commissioner Barbara McGowan, Alderman Chris Taliaferro, and State Representative Jawaharial “Omar” Williams.

In other election results, Foxx against O’Brien, won over 80 percent of the vote in at least 14 Black wards and grabbed over 90 percent of the vote in five Black wards. Foxx’s biggest win was in the 34th ward, where she received 91.65 percent of the vote. In all 18 Black wards, Foxx won 274,057 votes or 84.97 percent of the vote.

In all 50 Chicago wards, Foxx won 63 percent of the total ballots, winning 560,780 votes. In Cook County, Foxx finished second to O’Brien by taking 42.71 percent of the vote in the suburbs, compared to O’Brien’s 50.9 percent.

In the presidential election, Biden and Harris swept all 18 Black wards over President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

In 14 Black wards, Biden took 90 percent of the vote. Biden’s biggest win was in the 21st ward, where he won 95.77 percent of the vote. In all 18 Black wards, Biden won 92.56 percent of the vote or 297,576 votes. In all 50 wards, Biden took 81.59 percent or 760,789 votes.

Some 82 percent of voters in all 18 Black wards approved The Fair Tax Amendment, which aimed to increase the income tax for Illinois residents earning over $400,000. The average margin of victory in the Black wards was higher than the city’s other wards.

In all 50 wards, the amendment won 71.20 percent of the vote and in Cook County, the amendment received 52.67 percent of the vote. In the end voters statewide, rejected the amendment by a vote of 55.1 percent to 44.9 percent.

Despite the intensity and high stakes of the presidential election, turnout in all 18 Black wards was lower than 2016, when 66.79 percent of registered votes in those wards went to the polls.

On Tuesday, the turnout percentage was 56.36 percent. That number may have been higher because many voters in Chicago cast their ballots during Early Voting. Still, 16 wards on Tuesday had turnouts over 60 percent.

The 5th ward had the highest turnout at 67.50 percent.

The 16th ward, which in the last 20 years has had the lowest voter turnout among the Black wards, had the lowest turnout again with 45.43 percent.

On Tuesday, a Crusader reporter visited several polling precincts in the 16th ward, including one at Hope Presbyterian Church, 1354 W. 61st St.

The doors were locked when the reporter arrived at 6:40 a.m. A woman tried to open the door but left in frustration. The doors were open when the Crusader visited the site 30 minutes later.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Alderperson Chris Taliaferro (29th Ward) (θ‿θ)

    Generally, we Blacks vote Democratic, which will never change. The Democratics are the best and know what’s best for everyone. (θ‿θ)

    If the Harold Washington Party couldn’t convert Blacks, neither can Willie Wilson. ⊙﹏⊙

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