J.B. Pritzker got busted.
Pritzker can apologize over and over again for the racial remarks he made a decade ago, which were captured on a FBI wiretap of former Gov. Blagojevich’s phone, but — he’s busted.
He got caught saying the very things that a lot of black people suspect white people say when there are no black people in the room.
Pritzker, the billionaire in the Democratic primary for governor, positioned himself as a candidate who genuinely cares about the black condition.
He was strategic is picking a black running mate, Juliana Stratton, and quickly lined up a slew of black elected officials to support him.
But Pritzker’s remarks about three African-American politicians during a private conversation show he didn’t have much respect for black politicians, let alone the black community.
On FBI wiretaps obtained by the Chicago Tribune, and released on Monday, Pritzker dissed then-former Illinois Senate majority leader Emil Jones, as being “crass,” and labeled then-U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. “a nightmare,” this before Jackson was convicted of raiding his campaign finance fund. Secretary of State Jesse White, however, was, in Pritzker’s view, “the “least offensive.”
“It covers you on the African-American thing,” Pritzker said.
“[H]e’s Senate material in a way that Emil Jones isn’t,” Pritzker explained.
“The one I, you know that’s least offensive and maybe gets you the most cause it gets you that Secretary of State appointment, is Jesse White,” Pritzker said.
That choice would have given Blagojevich the opportunity to put his hand-picked person, likely a white person, over the patronage-rich office.
Blagojevich and Pritzker even joked about appointing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the U.S. Senate seat.
“On that call I was not my best self. I can be better. I have been better and I can do better,” Pritzker said in a press conference on Tuesday.
He should have cleared these decks before he decided to jump into the governor’s race. Money can buy a lot of things, but it can’t buy trust.
In his candid exchange with a corrupt governor, Pritzker exposed the entire mindset of the dominant political structure toward black politicians in Illinois.
There has always been the perception among blacks that when it comes to getting white support for a political campaign, it is not about how “qualified” a black candidate is, as much as it is about how “least offensive” that candidate is to white people.
Emil Jones, who is revered in the African-American community, is known for calling it as he sees it even when he is stepping on toes.
The former Illinois Senate majority leader, who is supporting Chris Kennedy, did not accept Pritzker’s apology and is demanding that Pritzker drop out of the race.
“Look at the other side of his face. The other side of his face is that he does not accept strong black leadership. He likes acceptable blacks who are meek and won’t say anything,” Jones said in an interview with Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman.
Additionally, Pritzker’s wiretap mishaps, coming in the midst of this critical primary, are putting African-American leadership in the position of defending behavior that should be condemned.
For instance, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who came under fierce criticism because of the ill-fated soda tax, officially endorsed Pritzker on Wednesday.
Preckwinkle called Pritzker “a decent person,” and said the “only question our community should be asking is who has a record of showing up for us.”
Meanwhile, one of Prizker’s campaign staffers has resigned, and grass-roots activists are speaking out.
“I don’t believe J.B. is racist, but I do believe his nature is that he may have some prejudices against certain black folks who in his small mind he believes are inferior to him and his billions. I believe J.B. meant every word on those tapes. He didn’t like getting caught,” said Hal Baskin, a longtime activist in Englewood.
That several black elected officials lined up behind Pritzker when he offered a mea culpa is appalling, yet not surprising.
But not even a savvy politician like Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), who argued that Pritzker was actually talking about how “great” White is, should be able to convince “woke” black people that the emperor has clothes when he is naked.
I don’t believe Pritzker said anything more than others have said about the black political climate in Illinois.
But J.B. got busted.
With respect to black voters, he’s now the devil we know.