The conservative publication National Journal is reporting that Bill Daley, a member of Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s transition team prior to Rauner being sworn into office, is behind an effort to convince Andrea Zopp, an appointed member of the Chicago School Board who voted for a Rahm Emanuel-backed proposal to close dozens of Chicago Public Schools, to run for the Democratic nomination in next year’s U.S. Senate race here in Illinois:
Zopp is being recruited by African-American political leaders, as well as former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, to forge an uphill bid against (U.S. Representative Tammy) Duckworth, who already has raised more than $1.5 million for her campaign.
“My consideration isn’t about the turnout,” she said. “My consideration is that as an African-American woman I think I bring perspective that the African-American community and also other communities of color will respond to, and I think that perspective is not represented in the race.”
Duckworth, the only declared candidate in the race so far, was born in Thailand to an American father and Thai mother, and has some Chinese ancestry. Daley, who has been urging Zopp into the race, said Democrats would be “idiots” to not worry about a potential drop-off in black voters if there were no African-American candidate on the ballot in either of the top two slots.
The other two candidates who are considering bids that I’m aware of are U.S. Representative Robin Kelly and State Senator Napoleon Harris. Duckworth, Zopp, Kelly, and Harris are all ethnic minorities: the latter three are black and Duckworth has Thai and Chinese ancestry.
I’ll emphasize the last sentence that I quoted above, as it’s clear to me that Bill Daley is trying to recruit a candidate for public office primarily on the basis of the potential candidate’s skin color. Personally, I think that’s downright racist and no different than Republicans like Mark Kirk making racist remarks about black people. Also, Daley’s claim that black voters won’t turn out without a black candidate running in either the presidential or statewide races is absolutely absurd for multiple reasons. First, there hasn’t been a scenario in which there was no black candidate running on the Democratic ticket for president, vice president, or statewide office in Illinois since 2000, and Democrats won Illinois’s electoral votes for president and vice president, which was the only presidential or statewide contest that was on the ballot, that year. Second, Republicans have won statewide races in Illinois with black Democrats running in other statewide contests. Third, black voters here in Illinois will turn out to vote for any Democratic candidate who will fight to improve the lives of all Illinoisans, especially a candidate that makes a concerted effort to reach out to black voters in an attempt to earn their support. Most Illinois voters don’t care about the race or skin color of candidates, they’re more interested about what candidates stand for.
Remarks similar to what Bill Daley made have backfired on black Democrats in a neighboring state in the past. In a 2012 Milwaukee-area Wisconsin State Senate race, Elizabeth Coggs, a black Democrat who was running in a multi-way primary, told a mostly-black audience at a community conference of some kind to “vote for someone who looks like you”, an apparent reference to Millie Coby, a black Democrat who was running for the Wisconsin State Assembly seat that Coggs gave up to run for state senate against Sandy Pasch, a white Democrat. As a result of Coggs’s remarks, Coggs herself lost to another black Democrat, and Coby lost her race to Pasch.
Bill Daley owes the people of Illinois an apology for his racist remarks as part of his effort to divide Illinois Democrats and progressives against each other in order to promote his Bruce Rauner-style corporate agenda. More importantly, Illinois does not need a corporate hack like Andrea Zopp holding statewide elected office. If Robin Kelly runs for U.S. Senate, I will endorse her campaign. If Kelly does not run, I will endorse Tammy Duckworth.