Blacks say they retain clout despite possible loss of Senate seat

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Despite the scandal swirling about Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and the delay in choosing a replacement for President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, Black politicians say the controversy and delay will not diminish Black political clout in the state.

Despite the scandal swirling about Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the delay in choosing a replacement for President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, Black politicians say the controversy and delay will not diminish Black political clout in the state.

“I don’t think that any political clout has been compromised,” said U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-7th, who said that the scandal has “damaged” politics in general.

State Rep. David Miller agreed, stating that the Black community has a relationship with many elected officials, including others whose names were tossed in the ring for the vacancy, such as Madigan and Giannoulias.

“The governor clearly had a relationship with the Black community, but so has many other elected officials and constitutional officers. Atty. Gen. Madigan works with a group of African American preachers. Alexi Giannoulias has a relationship with African Americans. So, as far as our involvement, our relationships are still there,” Miller told the Defender.

In the wake of the governor’s troubles, the focus is to continue to foster the relationships that are in place and form new ones, whomever runs for office in 2010. The chosen one would have to speak with the Black community. Cook County has a large population of Blacks, so we can’t be ignored, Miller said.

“We have to make sure that we hold whoever’s feet to the fire,” he added.

Miller’s fellow state representative Monique Davis, D-27th, concurred, stating that the needs of the Black community are the same as everyone else’s, no matter who is sent to get the job done.

“We still have congressional people elected, county people and state people. It won’t affect our clout,” Davis said.

“We all need education, health care and job opportunities, among other things, regardless of the color. A lot of things that have been seen as color barriers, in my opinion, have been the difference between Democrat and Republican. Democrats lean more toward people who are in need and the needs the government can provide. Most Republicans and their perception of what people need oftentimes exclude us,” she said.

When Barack Obama resigned his Senate seat, questions arose as to who would replace him.

Two of the three Black U.S. senators this nation has ever had came from Illinois. Many civic, religious and political leaders were looking forward to extending that history.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-1st, held a news conference earlier this month advising Gov. Rod Blagojevich to appoint an African American to fill the vacancy. If not, there would be no African Americans serving in the Senate, and that would be a “national disgrace,” he said.

Blagojevich said last week, in his first public statement since his arrest, that he will remain the governor of Illinois. He also said, through his attorneys Ed Genson and Sam Adam Jr., that he will not appoint someone to replace Obama in the Senate.

How the next U.S. Senator for the state will be selected is still yet to be determined.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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