Candidates change, but political tactics remain the same

SHARE Candidates change, but political tactics remain the same

Primary Election Day is March 20. | Sun-Times file photo

Election cycles have a fair share of shenanigans, but this one has had some real doozies.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker was caught making derogatory comments about three well-known black politicians, while Chris Kennedy tried to score points with the black community by laying the blame for black flight on City Hall’s doorstep.

Meanwhile, black voters weren’t supposed to notice that Kennedy’s real estate projects are beyond the reach of most of the city’s African-Americans.

How politicians reacted to challenges told us more about that candidate’s character than all of those stylized debates, glossy mailers and annoying commercials.

While Kennedy’s campaign picked up steam late in the game, he has yet to reconcile his “conspiracy” theory with his own development projects.

And Pritzker, who harped about change, change, change, used the same tactic the man he is trying to unseat, Gov. Bruce Rauner, used when he wanted to attract black voters.

After Pritzker’s racial remarks were exposed, he started to throw big money around the black community. He has given a hefty sum to black leadership, about $159,000, according to Kennedy.

In 2014, when Rauner was desperate to siphon black votes from Pat Quinn, he went to a little-known credit union on the South Side and deposited $1 million to support small-business loans.

We get it.

Still, black voters are being asked to believe that these monetary gifts are investments in the community and not in exchange for the support of black leadership.

But the biggest disappointment has to be Rauner’s veto of long-awaited gun legislation.

The bill would have required gun dealers to be licensed by the state, and not just by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Other bills in the pipeline would raise the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy an assault rifle; ban the sale of bump stocks, and require a 72-hour “cooling off” period on purchasing assault rifles.

With students organizing a nationwide walkout over inaction after the Parkland school shooting, Rauner’s choice was a no-brainer.

But Rauner’s veto showed he has become the thing he claimed to despise four years ago: A politician that puts self-interest above the state’s interest.

Children are dying. They are dying in the streets of Chicago and in the classrooms of cities like Parkland, Florida, because our gun laws are too fragmented to keep these lethal weapons out of the wrong hands.

Obviously, Rauner’s primary opponent, Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives, has him running scared with ads that paint him as the Benedict Arnold of Illinois politics.

But the gun legislation was about leadership, not politics.

Thankfully, the youths who walked out of their classrooms on Wednesday, to protest the inaction of adults on this issue are not yet jaded by our political system.

But they are watching.

And it’s not just the candidates at the top of the ticket being tripped up by last-minute politicking.

In the 25th District, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun is accusing Flynn Rush of falsely claiming she endorsed him.

Flynn Rush is the son of longtime U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, D-Ill.

Seven extremely qualified candidates are vying to fill state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie’s seat. The Illinois House’s second-ranking Democrat is retiring after 20 years in the Legislature.

“I certainly did not give permission for my name to be used in any way by (Flynn) Rush, especially on campaign literature meant to confuse and misinform voters,” Braun said in an email.

“I call on (Flynn) Rush to withdraw the erroneous and offensive mailer, cease and desist in using even the inference of my support on behalf of his candidacy, and to immediately issue a statement admitting to this misdeed,” she said.

Flynn Rush denies he mischaracterized Braun’s support.

“Early in my campaign, my father . . . asked for her support of my candidacy. . . . At that time, she graciously consented to support me and volunteered to make a contribution to underscore her support. Since that time, I have spoken of her support without any knowledge of her concern. Quite frankly, I am confused by her present position,” Flynn Rush said in a written statement.

The elder Rush has vowed to return Braun’s $250 donation to his son’s campaign.

And to think they used to be friends.

Next week, voters will have their say.

Hopefully, the political shenanigans haven’t left them confused as well.

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