Bobby Rush’s endorsement could give Bill Daley a big boost

SHARE Bobby Rush’s endorsement could give Bill Daley a big boost
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U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush. File Photo. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Everywhere I go, people ask me who do I think will be mayor?

Some people even ask me whom I am voting for. Obviously, I won’t answer the latter question.

But I love to watch the expression on their faces when I tell them Bill Daley could walk away with this thing.

“Noooo,” the person usually responds, shaking his or her head. “The city doesn’t want another Daley.”

“Don’t bet on it,” I say.

Chicago, especially its business community, likes familiarity.

Daley is raking in money from the finance community. He is now up to $5.57 million, more than $2 million ahead of Toni Preckwinkle, his closest opponent in the money race.

Having that much cash doesn’t ensure that Daley will win outright, but it surely suggests that he will be in the runoff.

A recent Chicago Sun-Times poll found Preckwinkle with 12.7 percent and Daley with 12.1 percent, followed by Gery Chico with 9.3 percent, Willie Wilson, 9 percent and Susana Mendoza 8.7 percent. The other candidates each had less than 5 percent.

Given that there are still six African-Americans in this race, there’s not much hope that black voters will pool their voting power and back a single candidate.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush’s surprising endorsement of Daley shows how hard it is to predict who will end up political allies.

In 1999, Rush ran for mayor against Daley’s brother –– Richard M. Daley –– on the theme of “fairness and inclusion,” just as black mayoral candidates are running on today.

“We must reclaim our city from those who manage it is as a personal fiefdom for the benefit of a small group of cronies,” Rush said in an interview with the late Sun-Times political reporter, Steve Neal.

Rush lost badly, and the race pretty much marked the end of Harold Washington’s political legacy.

Given the exodus of African-American voters from the city, this year’s open contest seemed the right time for a black candidate to have a real shot at becoming mayor.

That’s why Rush’s endorsement of another Daley hit some like a bombshell. To put it bluntly, some black people are hopping mad.

I caught up with Rush on his cellphone after the press conference.

He wouldn’t go on the record about why he did not endorse Preckwinkle or another black mayoral candidate. But he defended his support for Bill Daley.

“I have known Bill Daley for many years. I worked with him when he was chief of staff for Obama. I worked with him when he was the secretary of commerce for Bill Clinton. He has an old name, but he is a person with fresh, innovative ideas,” Rush said.

“He didn’t see the world in the same way as [his brother] Rich or his father because he has seen more of the world,” he added.

Rush said Bill Daley has a “particular” vantage point that he finds redeeming.

“He is a business leader that can bring not only the context and connections, but he can see the opportunities so that we can have more business in our community so we can be more self-sufficient,” he told me.

Rush, who was a ranking member of the Black Panthers in the late 1960s, went to City Hall when Washington was first elected in 1983.

He hold’s the honor of being the only person to have beaten former President Barack Obama in a political contest.

One thing he said his mentors drilled into him was in politics, “there are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.”

“I stand here at 47th and King Drive at the Harold Washington Cultural Center, a building that was built and financed by Rich Daley,” Rush told me.

“I remember so well back in 1986 …in the 42nd Ward of the Democratic Party…Harold Washington was in this press conference and he had all of his supporters — the Washington 21 — seated before him. He surprised us all when he endorsed Rich Daley for state’s attorney. Rich was out of work and out of office, and he brought him in. I’ll never forget it,” Rush said.

“He looked directly at me and Dorothy Tillman, eye to eye, and he put a smile on his face and said, ‘You better support him,'” Rush recalled.

“I stand on my record as a black man who has dedicated my entire life to uplifting black people. I’ve always been a strategic thinker and a critical thinker. We have to have coalitions. We can’t do this by ourselves,” he said.

Given the long careers of Chicago politicians, the ties that bind them weave in and out depending on the times.


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