A group of black ministers gathered Monday at a West Side soul food restaurant to announce their endorsement of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner — stressing that the millionaire did not buy their support.
“We have not been bought,” said Dr. Willie Wilson, Chairman of the Chicago Baptist Institute International, who emphasized the decision was from the heart and based on which candidate would better create jobs and educational opportunities.
Rauner called any such insinuation simply “baloney.”
“In no way is that occurring whatsoever,” he said while at MacArthur’s restaurant in the South Austin area, surrounded by black ministers, businessmen and black Republicans, all comprising a coalition calledthe Economic Empowerment Forum.
“I think he’s been working harder than anybody I’ve seen to earn our vote in the African-American community,” said Wilson, a former backer of Gov. Pat Quinn who jumped to the Rauner ship after Quinn, he said, failed to deliver economic reform. “[Rauner] shares our vision of economic empowerment in the African-American community.”
Rauner called the 20-percent unemployment rate among African-American men in Illinois “outrageous” and said he’d work to support minority owned small businesses.
Rauner quoted the Bible, committed to visiting a black barber shop and smiled as several supporters referred to him as “Mr. Governor.”
Following a speech and a brief question-and-answer session, supporters clapped and chanted “Bruce” as curious onlookers in the lunch line for the cafateria-style eatery watched.
Here is a partial list of Economic Empowerment Forum members who endorsed Rauner Monday:
♦Pastor Corey Brooks,founder of New Beginnings Church of Chicago
♦Rev.Marshall Hatch, Sr., of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church
♦Pastor Stephen Thurston of New Covenant Baptist Church,former president of the National Baptist Convention of America
♦Pastor Dr. Robert Patterson of Spirit of Truth Baptist Church andpresident of the Baptist Pastors Conference, Chicago and vicinity
♦Pastor Dr. Willie Cotton, president of the Baptist Ministers Union, Chicago and Vicinity
♦Pastor John Gray, pastor of Holy Zion Baptist Church
♦Pastor Michael A. Harrington
♦Andre Fair, president of Omar Medical Supplies
♦Percy Coleman, deputy chairman, Chicago GOP