A common practice in successful public relations campaigns is research. Long before many PR firms issue the first news releases or advise the client of detailed campaign strategies; they conduct research. The beauty of this exercise is it allows the firm to get feedback from target audiences, and others, and plan accordingly. They can tailor the campaign to the audience’s interests, expectations, and preferences.
This strategy also has been applied successfully to political campaigns. Candidates enhance their positions and ideas on policies by checking in with their constituents via research. The end product is something palatable to voters. Sometimes, even without the formal research voters give candidates enough to fine-tune their positions. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case in the upcoming April 2 municipal runoff elections.
Even though we are voting in an election with no incumbent mayor for the third time in Chicago history, voters are dodging providing the mayoral candidates with input on issues.
Social media are loaded with posts, tweets, and comments about the two women’s appearances, relationships, and past achievements, or lack thereof. However, when it comes to addressing fiscal problems, or basic neighborhood improvements, as well as economic developments; voters aren’t sharing their thoughts, or even asking the candidates tough questions about those areas and more.
That leaves the candidates with what should be the unacceptable option of addressing only the matters of their interest, and taking a pass on the tough ones. While voters are engaged in the mundane and mud-slinging, so are these two candidates. It is unfortunate that two successful women rarely elevate the discussion beyond who is more progressive. I have to wonder if the average voter knows, or cares what comes with the progressive tag.
There are moments when the campaigns resemble two students setting up for a schoolyard fight and the rest of the student body edging them on. I am not sure if enough voters aren’t familiar with many pressing issues, or they just don’t care. Nor do I know if there is enough time to force the candidates to provide their perspectives on the city’s most critical issues.
When Chicago voters go to the polls to elect 50 aldermen and a new mayor, it will be only the third time in the city’s history residents don’t have the option to vote for an incumbent mayor.
More importantly, it will be the first time Chicagoans will elect an African-American female to city’s highest office. Others, including Cook County Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, former U.S. Senator Carol Mosely Braun, and State Sen. Patricia Van Pelt all have tried.
Despite the real and implied historical aspects, there is no reason to believe the turnout April 2 in the runoff election between Cook County Board President and former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot the voter turnout will top the February 26 election total. That topped out at less than 36 percent.
Ms. Lightfoot received the endorsement of Willie Wilson, who finished third in the 2015 election, and fourth on February 26. However, it is not likely the 58,000 voters who selected Mr. Wilson are likely to follow Ms. Lightfoot, as she is a virtual unknown in most of the Black community. There is not enoughtime to immerse here in the community.
Suzana Mendoza is the real prize among those who didn’t make the runoff. While she garnered about 8,000 votes less than Willie Wilson, her base is the Latino community. If she chooses to back either candidate and delivers them the Latino vote that person will walk away an easy winner.
More so than at any time in the recent past voting matters because it can help shape the city’s future. A first-time mayor will be more inclined to listen to the voting bloc that put her in office. We also are seeing neither candidate will come into office with solid plans to address the most pressing problems, as well as the public’s highest priorities. Additionally, a first time mayor needs to perform to constituent’s satisfaction, rather than her own agenda to have a chance at a second term.
Less than 24 hours ago I took to social media to discuss the news that Illinois gubernatorial candidate, JB Pritzker 10 years ago said some uncomplimentary, unflattering, and some might say mean-spirited things about African-American politicians and the Rev Jeremiah Wright. The comments were made during a secretly taped phone conversation with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
That Facebook conversation divined into a call for to vote for Tio Hardiman, and Pritzker being nearly as anti-Black as folk come. The Facebook thread grew by the second with few of the participants willing to acknowledge that things might have changed (for Pritzker) in the last 10 years when it comes to African Americans. The billionaire’s appearance at a news conference with several key Black aldermen and business people didn’t move his critics. If Pritzker was truly sorry for what he said, he would have stood alone at the news conference instead of being accompanied by a handful of Black aldermen and some Black business owners. Pritzker also was chastised on Facebook re his comments that he was not “his best self” on the secretly recorded conversation. The social media questioners opined his true colors showed given he didn’t know he was being taped. And it is those true colors he will carry into the governor’s mansion if elected.
It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep will do. It jogged my memory, and caused me to recall a string of conversations with individuals who repeated what one of Pritzker’s Black campaign officials said: “We don’t need the Black Press.” It seems that someone with that kind of errant thinking should have been relieved of any campaign duties and sent home immediately. Personally, those words sting more than the utterances about Secretary of State Jessie White, former Sen. President Emil Jones, former U.S.Rep Jesse Jackson, and the esteemed Rev. Jeremiah Wright. If Pritzker doesn’t want to be perceived as insulting to Black people, why did he engage in the “Black-bashing” with Blagojevich? He could have and should have checked him and said there was nothing honorable or humorous about the situation.
Fast forward a few months and we learn that the billionaire’s campaign, which has already spent a record amount on television advertising. According to a Chicago Sun-Times story https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/together-pritzker-rauner-spending- $120,000-a-day-on-campaign is spending more than $100,000 a day overall on advertising. Additionally, the Pritzker camp recently insulted the Black Press by 1) offering to buy a one-quarter page ad, 2) stating that the campaign wasn’t advertising in the Black Press until after the primary! Extremely pretentious of them.
My thinking is that there will be no after the primary for Pritzker. Over the decades the Black Press has been the go-to vehicle for candidates, Black and white, who want to and feel it is important to speak to Black voters. The ongoing cry of so many Black voters and observers is that the Dems take our vote for granted. The Pritzker campaign just cemented that notion.
A quarter-page ad in most Black newspapers costs less than a new smartphone. It is less than the cost of four new tires generally. In Chicago especially, the Black Press has been supportive of Democratic candidates over many, many years. When we marry Pritzker’s comments about a possible replacement for outgoing then-U.S. Sen.Barack Obama and his campaign’s attitude toward the Black Press it is clear it is time for him to step off of the campaign trail.
Not too long ago I had what I will generously call a mini-epiphany. I ask you to please understand this is about elections-not partisan politics. No matter which way we look at it, the Black community et al has an abysmal voting record.
There are countless voter registration drives that don’t significantly improve outcomes
We lament poor turnout election after election. GOTV initiatives rarely produce the numbers they should. All traditional practices leave us wanting for more voters.
So, the thought occurred that MAYBE we have been looking thru the wrong end of the telescope. I am thinking it might be more beneficial to focus on why people vote, instead of the putting so much attention on the ones who don’t. We know a large cohort of Black voters show up at the polls out of respect for previous generations of African Americans who made tremendous sacrifices to gain the right for us to vote.
There also are a few who routinely succumb to peer pressure and vote because neighbors, friends, and families also vote. No doubt, there also are the voters who believe their participation will change or maintain the status quo.
While those who cast a ballot make up the minority of registered voters, they are the ones who determine what stays the same, what changes, and who gets into office. That means the majority of constituents in a ward, district, county or state must live with the will of the minority.
The Chicgo Board of Elections https://chicagoelections.com/en/home.html expanded early voting, did away with the requirement to give a reason for absentee voting, and now allow Saturday voting. Yet, none of these steps have pushed voting toward the upper strata. The changes were made after solid research, a lot of deliberation, and measured implementation. Primiarily though, they were made with more input from voters than non-voters.
When we have empirical data re why people don’t vote maybe then their concerns will be addressed, and the majority, rather than a minority will put elected officials in place.
For the last three or so years, voter suppression has become a buzz term in political circles A more accurate description would be Black voter suppression. Instead of Jim Crow-era poll tax, literacy tests, and other subjective strategies for stymieing the Black vote; today we have voter ID laws, relocating polling places away from Black communities, early poll closings, and a host of other tactics. Each one is intended to ensure the Black vote doesn’t determine the outcome of an election.
If voter suppression is working, don’t we have an obligation to ask ourselves, as Black voters why?
Can the Black community combat primarily GOP moves of closing polling places, requiring identification, and changing voting hours? Of course, we can but, why aren’t we? We know what the impediments are right now. That means we should be organizing personal transportation for those who no longer have nearby or convenient polling locations. The community also should start working to ensure that every person who doesn’t have a state ID gets one long before voting begins.
If that is not the work of organizations such as the NAACP, then surely there are community orgs that can pick up the mantle. None of the counter-actions are terribly expensive or need an organizing guru to pull off. We’ve become expert at complaining about what is being done to us, even though there was ample opportunity to blunt those actions. It is almost as though some of us enjoy being victims.
Seven decades ago and earlier, Black people had a much, much rougher time and far fewer opportunities to vote. They seemed energized en masse at the notion someone was blocking a constitutional right. They were without all of the conveniences, resources, and laws we enjoy today. Our computer-assisted voting strategies pale in comparison to their basement meeting, word-of-mouth methods.
Voter suppression will be a movement based on sand should Black people decide to collaborate, strategize and implement several campaigns to get our souls to the polls, as the old preacher said.
Since the pop tax was announced and ultimately went into effect, there has been a battle cry of “vote em all out.” The sentiment is extremely understanding and equally short-sighted.
We have five months before we can cast a vote for Cook County Commissioner-any of them. That is five months to take two critically important steps. The first is asking yourself why did you vote for that person nearly four years ago. The second is to do a little research and find out how your commissioner voted on issues since being in office. If you voted for an incumbent, what did he or do or say to earn that vote? Has that position changed? If no, is the pop tax enough to change who represents you? It is wise to look at the commissioner’s history of voting rather than one disastrous vote.
With less than six months to go until the election, already we should be seeing signs or at least getting subtle signals or who is running against the incumbents. It would make sense to pinpoint one or two or even a handful of commissioners to turn out, but every incumbent doesn’t make good political or governmental sense.
With the rationale of voting them out hinging on this single vote does that mean eight commissioners who voted against the tax should be broomed out as well? It is imperative that Cook County voters, especially Chicagoans, start voting more strategically and less emotionally. A social media recently offered in the “all out” discussion that Commissioner Jerry Butler should be exempt because of his singing career. Really?
Let’s take freshly minted Commissioner Dennis Deer. Deer has not had a chance to show what he’s made of, and the next four, five or six months might not give him a chance to do so. However, Deer did face formidable competition, especially from Springfield lobbyist Frank Bass. But will Bass or the other long line of Deer’s former opponents be back in the fray come election time next March?Speaking of Third District Commissioner Jerry Butler there is a
the persistent buzz among the insiders at the county building that his health will prevent him from seeking another term. So it makes sense for commissioner detractors to focus on his replacement.
We also have Commissioner Richard Boykin who represents the county’s First District. Boykin has made no secret about the possibility of challenging Ms. Precwkinkle in the upcoming election. If that comes to fruition then West Side residents and those in the western suburbs will be voting for a new commissioner, not looking to vote anyone out of office.
The feelings of betrayal, insolence, and that the tax is a money-grab are not only understandable but expected. County officials did a horrid job of initially explaining the need for the tax, how it will be applied, and why not another commodity.
Regardless of the number of commissioners, who lose their seats come March, as residents we have to be more diligent, aggressive, and attention to what happens at every level of government even when it is just in the proposal stage.
I now have to wonder if Tio Hardiman understands what a governor does. Hardiman, who is far better known for his anti-violence work than anything related to government or politics, is hinting at another run for the state’s top office. It seems if he understood what the job entails and his lack of any level of governmental experience, he would run the other way.
If he follows through, this campaign would be more bizarre than his previous attempt in 2014. According to his latest Facebook post, Hardiman mistakenly believes the 125,000 votes he garnered back then was an endorsement of his candidacy.
The reality is a significant number of those voters were voting against former Gov. Pat Quinn-not so much for Hardiman. No doubt a sizeable number of Mr. Hardiman’s tally came from people like him, who don’t really understand the role of a governor.
Just like in his earlier bid, Mr. Hardiman looks like he will rely heavily on social media. It is a strategy that makes sense when one is without the ability to raise the kind of money it takes to run a viable campaign.
Personally, Mr. Hardiman has a point when he derides the fact that the wealthy – Chris Kennedy and J.B. Pritzker are gobbling up the vast majority of media attention for the race. However, Mr. Hardiman showed a practically never seen level of naivete when he suggested that one of them back him financially.
Normally, when such deals are struck they aren’t conducted in the public’s eye and the person needing or requesting that kind of backing is believed to have a chance of winning. Mr. Haridman has not demonstrated any fiscal management experience. That is going to be key for whoever the next governor is as he or she attempts to sort out the damage done by the incumbent to the state’s budget and scores of agencies that rely on state funding.
Although both men are propped up in everything they do by virtue of their last names, both Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Pritzker can lay claim to being at the helm of large national enterprises. Mr. Kennedy also has the advantage of the last name that has been favorably associated with African Americans and Democrats for more than a half of a century.
To date, both men appear to be scandal free. However, it is early as neither has been a declared candidate for two months yet.
The real race for the governor’s job is far more likely to see Mr. Hardiman a distant fourth once Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers quits fawning with voters and gets in the race.
By his own admission, the trial balloon, or email in this case Mr. Summers sent was overwhelmingly well received. He was exploring how an array of voters would view his candidacy. A second email all but said his run is a go. Summers, to date, is the only candidate with a wealth of public sector management experience. The fact that experience is in finance is another plus for him. The learning curve for Mr. Summers would be relatively flat given he has worked at both the county and municipal levels.
Voters who are close personal friends of Mr. Hardiman are likely to justify a rationale for overlooking his missing expertise in finance,
and not even tangential connection to government, and still vote for him. Sadly, if he continues this trail, it will be a wasted vote.
Next issue: Why J.B. Pritzker is wasting everyone’s time trying to be governor.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Not too long ago an informal discussion occurred among a handful of Black men re: the political future of Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers and what was the outlook for him as a candidate for governor or mayor of Chicago. As a result of that discussion lifelong Chicagoan, Antwan Dobson was invited to pen his opinions on the general topic of a Black mayor for Chicago. His observations are below, immediately followed by my thoughts on a Black mayor, and that running for governor might be Mr. Summers’ best bet.
For those who read the seemingly interminable Autobiography of
President Bill Clinton – “Between Hope and History” – you might remember a small passage buried in those 1,100 pages. It is a passage about Yale Law School dining room conversation where the yet-to-be married Clintons committed to eventually both being President of the United States.
It is time African-Americans to form or join a new political party. Our support for the Democratic Party has increased steadily over almost 60 years, yet, our political fortunes and standard of living have not truly improved.
American Blacks identifying as Democrats went from 58 per cent in 1960 to 76 per cent in 2012. In 1960 60 per cent of Black folks voted Democratic compared to 93 per cent in 2012.
Over that period of time, Black unemployment consistently remained twice that of whites—twelve percent for Blacks and six for whites in 1960 to 13.4% for Blacks and 6.7% for whites in 2013 with no favorable “blips” during the tenure of Democratic presidents.
How can such a loyal constituent base be punished so severely by the society the Democratic Party represents?