Former Senate President Emil Jones not only doesn’t accept J.B. Pritzker’s apology, he says the billionaire has shown “what he really thinks about black folks” and should withdraw from the governor’s race.
Pritzker showed his “true colors” when he told Rod Blagojevich in a secretly recorded conversation that Jones was too “crass” to fill Barack Obama’s Senate seat, Jones said Tuesday.
“He’s been running around the black community talking about all the things he’s gonna do. Blah, blah, blah. … He’s trying to buy the black vote. He’s like a one-eyed jack. But, those tapes show you the other side of his face. This is what he really thinks about black folks,” said Jones, who has endorsed Chris Kennedy for governor.
“What he meant by ‘crass’ is that I’m an uppity black. I fight for my people and, sometimes, that ruffles feathers. What he was saying in comparing me to Jesse White is that Jesse White is a safe black. Jesse White is not gonna do what Emil Jones does. Dr. King was a crass black. Harold Washington was a crass black. It was said in a derogatory manner.”
Jones said he doesn’t accept Pritzker’s apology — and neither should African-American voters.
“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.
Jones was not impressed when told that Secretary of State Jesse White, City Treasurer Kurt Summers and Aldermen Pat Dowell (3rd), Michael Scott Jr. (24th) and Walter Burnett (27th) all stood with Pritzker on Tuesday as the candidate offered his public apology.
“I expect that from them. They are all safe blacks. A safe black is not gonna challenge or do anything,” Jones said.
“This is Black History Month. You’ve got to stand for something. If they have any respect for black people, they should not have been there with him.”
Told of Jones’ remarks, White said he knows Jones to be a “tough, smart politician with thick skin who can defend himself against anyone.”
“While I wasn’t offended by Mr. Pritzker’s comments, JB has apologized to me and others and I accept it. I also understand why, as a supporter of Mr. Kennedy, Emil has not,” White said in a statement.
Summers could not be reached for comment on Jones’ remarks. Burnett declined to comment.
Scott called Jones’ label about “safe blacks” an insult.
“It’s ironic that he’s responding to somebody calling him names with his own name-calling,” Scott said.
Dowell issued a lengthy text message after learning that Jones had branded her and the others who stood with Pritzker “safe blacks.”
“No black politician in this town is safe. We all work in the best interest of our community,” Dowell wrote.
“We must truly look at the total measure of a man and his history. And out of all the candidates running, Pritzker has done more to advance the causes of the African American community than all the other candidates combined and he should stay in the race and defeat Rauner.”
Jones unleashed his anger after Pritzker apologized for portions of a conversation he had with Blagojevich that was recorded by the FBI. In the recording obtained by the Chicago Tribune, Pritzker pitched White as the “least offensive” choice to fill the Senate seat being vacated by then President-elect Obama.
In the Nov. 14, 2008 conversation Pritzker described Jones as too “crass” for the job and joked along with the governor when Blagojevich suggested appointing Obama’s controversial pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to fill the vacancy.
“God damn America!” Pritzker repeated after Blagojevich, who was mimicking Wright.
“I regret some of the things I didn’t say and some of the things that I did,” Pritzker said Tuesday.
Pritzker didn’t specifically say which parts of the call he regretted. The Democratic frontrunner simply said he was “not my best self” on the call and that he should have “pushed back” against some of Blagojevich’s comments.
White has known the billionaire heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune for decades. The secretary of state said Tuesday he was not offended by Pritzker’s remarks, adding “I know where his heart is.”
Obama has described Jones as his political godfather. That’s apparently why those who call Jones on his cell phone are greeted with the musical theme to the movie classic, “The Godfather.”
On Tuesday, Jones recalled that, prior to the 2012 presidential election, Pritzker showed his “true colors” again. This time, he was talking about Obama’s re-election campaign.
“He called Barack Obama a mediocre president and said he didn’t know who he was gonna support for president. He said that in a televised interview. That’s J.B. Pritzker,” Jones said.
That makes the recorded 2008 conversation all the more offensive, Jones said. It’s not an aberration.
“I would say to him that he should withdraw from the gubernatorial race,” Jones said.
“I haven’t said anything until this came out. I’ve known J.B. Pritzker for a number of years. But, I only saw one side of his face. The other side of his face shows me how he really is and how he really thinks. If you’re a black leader and you’re fighting for your people and you stand up and you don’t mind challenging people on those issues, you are crass.”