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09/29/2009

Oops!

  I still don't know what to make of the meeting of over 300 African-American ministers and others at the historic Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church Tuesday afternoon.  A news release billed the event as a "countywide African American clergy/community meeting to be held to discuss unity in the midst of potential repeat of 1989 political crisis in the black community".  

   There are four black candidates in the race for Cook County Board president including incumbent Todd Stroger, Circuit Clerk Dorothy Brown, 4th Ward Alderman Tony Preckwinkle and 7th District U.S. Congressman Danny Davis.   A fifth candidate who is white, Water Reclamation Board Chairman Terence O'Brien, should be favored to win, according to the meeting organizers, because the four black candidates would split the African-American vote.

  The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam lectured those assembled in the basement of the city's oldest black church on racial unity while other speakers reminded them of the 1989 Chicago Mayoral contest.  In that historic vote, black candidates Timothy Evans and Eugene Sawyer divided the African-American vote in the election won by Richard M. Daley.

  Now the backstory:  Stroger supporters began calling this reporter about the meeting over a week ago, telling me to expect that the incumbent would be endorsed by the group, which would also call on the other three black candidates to withdraw their names from the ballot. 

  But the meeting ended with the ministers deciding not to endorse ANY candidate until after a second meeting on October 12th.  I talked to several attendees who are firmly entrenched in the camps of either Davis, Brown or Preckwinkle.  If a vote had been taken Tuesday, there was no guarantee Stroger would have won a majority and perhaps not a plurality.

  Candidate Dorothy Brown "crashed" the meeting and listened without comment from her chair near the speakers' podium.   She told me earlier in the day if the ministers endorsed anyone it should be herself because of President Stroger's low approval rating and the fact she's won three countywide elections in the past. 

   As the meeting ended, Stroger himself arrived at Quinn Chapel (as we were told in advance he would) to appear at a post-meeting news conference.   Our "source" told us he would come to accept the group's endorsement.

   He didn't get it.  And there's a possibility now that he will not get it.

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