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Quinn’s loss can’t be laid on doorstep of African-Americans

I ran into my 92-year-old neighbor on Tuesday and asked her if she had voted.

“Yes,” she answered, squinting at me. “I held my nose, but I voted.”

Her gesture aptly describes what went wrong for Gov. Pat Quinn in his loss to Republican businessman Bruce Rauner. 

Rauner got nearly 21 percent of the vote in the city’s 50 wards.


But unlike past Republicans candidates running for statewide office, Rauner didn’t skip the black neighborhoods. With the support of several prominent black ministers, including the Rev. James Meeks, pastor of Salem Baptist Church, Rauner took his message to several black churches on the South and West Sides. 

On Tuesday, I woke up to a text from Meeks: “Now the African American vote is in play in the state,” he pointed out.

Meek’s supposition is that African-American votes made a big difference in this election and that gave Rauner the edge and a seat at the table.

The reason Quinn lost, according to Meeks, boils down to a black backlash.

“Quinn lost when he didn’t select Stephanie Neely [former city treasurer] as his running mate. All of us who supported Rauner would not have if Stephanie Neely was on the ballot,” Meeks told me.

The controversy erupted when Quinn chose Paul Vallas, the former chief of Chicago Public Schools, over Neely, but seemed to die down during the long campaign.

It was re-ignited when Rauner pounded on this tender spot during debates. 

“Stephanie was our city treasurer, a credible person, and a city leader,” Meeks said. “Quinn had a choice . . .  But the Democratic Party really figured even if we look over Stephanie Neely, it doesn’t make a difference because African-American voters don’t have anywhere to go. What it showed in this election is we have another place to go.”