Chicago Racial Politics Mayor

By: John Lester - Staff Writer
Published: Feb 25, 2021

Chicago Racial Politics. Chicago is experiencing some racial politics as black leaders choose one black candidate to run for mayor. It seems the flock went to the polls to vote for the anounted candidate.

But as Tuesday’s election showed, things aren’t so simple in Chicago anymore. While much of the city remains as geographically segregated as it was in 1983, when black and Hispanic voters helped Harold Washington to a historic victory in the mayoral race, voters this week rejected the so-called “consensus” black candidate and two Hispanic candidates in favor of a white man — former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

The lessons from the election are still emerging, but voters, aldermen and residents say one thing is clear: Race might still play a role in Chicago politics, but people don’t vote along racial and ethnic lines like they once did.

“It’s pretty naive and frankly a little insulting that they think our intelligence is so low that they say the name ‘Harold Washington’ and people will vote for you,” said Patricia Mosley, a 53-year-old black resident who voted for Emanuel, who is Jewish.

The former congressman collected two and often three times more votes than the consensus candidate, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, did in every predominantly black ward. He also had strong support in predominantly Hispanic wards, occasionally outpolling Chicago schools president Gery Chico, who’s part Mexican, and City Clerk Miguel del Valle, who’s Puerto Rican.

In all, Emanuel won 40 of 50 wards in Chicago, where blacks, whites and Hispanics each make up roughly a third of the population. He received 55 percent of the vote. Chico was second with 24 percent.

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