Even by the standards of a local political scene that’s often as filthy as a port-a-potty at Taste of Chicago, the metaphor used in a new city election campaign ad is pretty crappy.
“It’s time for an enema in the black community!” flamboyant former state Sen. Rickey “Hollywood” Hendon shouts in the spot that’s been airing on black radio over the past few days.
Hendon calls on Chicago’s African-American voters to unseat Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as many black City Council members in next month’s election.
The aldermen Hendon accuses of, er, blocking the black community’s progress by aligning with the mayor: Will Burns (4th), Anthony Beale (9th), Carrie Austin (34th), Howard Brookins (21st), Walter Burnett (27th) and Deborah Graham (29th).
“Go ahead and flush the toilet!” Hendon says. “Get rid of these sorry aldermen . . . They vote 100 percent with Rahm, helping him with the red-light cameras and to close out schools.”
The overheated rhetoric comes as little surprise to anybody who’s familiar with Hendon’s representation of the West Side in Springfield.
Before the 2010 election for governor, Hendon endorsed incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn — by arguing that people should vote for Quinn’s “racist, sexist and homophobic” GOP challenger only ”if you think gay and lesbian people need to be locked up and shot in the head.”
Hendon abruptly quit the Illinois Senate nearly four years ago as federal subpoenas swirled around state grants that he had sponsored.
But he hasn’t been charged with any crime, and he’s still very much in the game as a campaign consultant for many candidates in next month’s city election.
He wouldn’t be called Hollywood if he were like most consultants, leaving the marquee to the clients on the ballot and keeping themselves out of the limelight.
Hendon says he used “my own damn money” to put his high-decibel ad on the air. He quickly returned my call Tuesday and was more than happy to discuss his views.
Although he acknowledges that the enema metaphor “might offend some people,” he offers no apologies.
“It’s time for a cleansing,” he says of the black incumbents named in the ad. “They gotta go.”
After briefly working for 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti’s mayoral bid, Hendon switched his backing to Willie Wilson, the black businessman who recently put $1 million from his own pocket into challenging Emanuel.
State campaign-finance reports show Hendon also has worked recently for black incumbent Council members Natashia Holmes (7th), Willie Cochran (20th) and Jason Ervin (28th).
Hendon says only that he is with some of the sitting aldermen “for various reasons.” But Hendon’s Council clients have not been any more hostile toward Emanuel than the incumbents he’s working against.
Brookins, one of the targets of the ad, shrugs off the criticism as “typical Rickey Hendon.”
“Whoever is paying him, that’s where his loyalty is,” Brookins says.
Amid the scatological references in the ad, Hendon invoked the memory Chicago’s first black mayor.
“Some of y’all haven’t voted since Harold Washington died!” he yells. “That was 30 years ago! The wake is over! Wake up the dead! Register and vote!”
Hendon told me that, despite the racial appeal, he feels he’s part of a broader, multi-ethnic “progressive wave” that’s sweeping over the whole city this campaign season.
“We don’t bow to the party, we don’t yield to the party,” he says.
And true independents don’t take any crap. But voters soon will decide whether Hendon is the one who’s really full of it.