After a half-day meeting called by Jesse Jackson, Congressman Danny Davis withdrew from the Chicago mayor’s race, endorsing former Senator Carol Moseley Braun, who (after the previous endorsement and withdrawal of the Reverend James Meeks) is the remaining African-American candidate. This achieves a long-elusive hope among Chicago African-American leaders that their community’s votes not be split among more than one candidate in the race against Barack Obama’s former White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.
U.S. Rep. Danny Davis ended his bid for Chicago mayor tonight, endorsing former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.
Davis said he is endorsing Braun in the name of unity.
“I’m proud that I will be here when Carol Moseley Braun becomes the next mayor,” Davis said. “I come here tonight…to help prove unity is more than just a concept.”
Braun said she is emboldened by the endorsements from both Davis and state Sen. James Meeks, the other major African-American candidate who dropped out of the contest last week. Braun called it a “great way to start the new year.”
From press reports, it appears that Big Dog’s decision to campaign in Chicago for his friend Rahm Emanuel may have tipped the African-American community into a final decision on a single candidate:
Conversations among black leaders began shortly after Mayor Richard M. Daley, Chicago’s longest-serving mayor, announced in September that he would not run for re-election. But as Mr. Emanuel began gaining in the polls and announced — to the dismay of some of the black candidates — that former President Bill Clinton would campaign for him here in January, African-American leaders once again called for unity.
This meeting at PUSH headquarters wasn’t a genteel one-on-one, either, as supporters of both remaining African-American candidates appeared to make their case:
The Rev. Jesse Jackson brokered a roughly four-hour meeting Wednesday night with Davis and Braun at his Rainbow PUSH headquarters that was also attended by several ministers, business leaders and politicians. Among them was U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who is backing Braun, and state Sen. Rickey Hendon, who is backing Davis.
Jackson said he talked with the candidates about who has the best chance in the election as well as where they stand on myriad issues facing the city, but neither Davis nor Braun budged.
“They know it’s going to be difficult to get two candidates through the race. There will be two losers and no winner,” Jackson said. “It’s difficult to get one camel through the eye of the needle. It’s impossible to get two.”
Characterizing an Emanuel mayoralty as an outcome with “no winner” seems to clearly indicate Jackson’s opinion that Rahm must be stopped. Is unity, and a consensus candidate among the African-American community, likely to do that? In any event, it’s certainly not a great way for Rahm to start the year.
At today’s rally at PUSH headquarters, after Jesse Jackson and his son, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr, spoke, African-American political leaders appeared to speak with one voice:
“People said that we would never come together,” Meeks said before dozens of people in the Rainbow PUSH Coalition auditorium on the South Side. “People said that our egos were too big, but we proved everybody wrong.”
“We need one African-American candidate running for mayor of the city of Chicago. One African-American candidate,” Meeks said.
The event, which began with Jackson and his son, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., touting job creation and reducing unemployment, turned into a pep rally for Braun.
“This is beginning to build,” Braun said. “This is getting our bandwagon going … getting the people together all over Chicago who have supported and are willing to support this message, this candidacy.”
The message? NOT RAHM.