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Black Leaders Closer To Consensus Mayoral Candidate

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(Clockwise from top left) Illinois State Sen. James Meeks, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and attorney Larry Rogers Jr. are four finalists chosen by a coalition of black leaders to be a consensus African-American candidate for mayor. (CBS/Getty Images)

(Clockwise from top left) Illinois State Sen. James Meeks, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and attorney Larry Rogers Jr. are four finalists chosen by a coalition of black leaders to be a consensus African-American candidate for mayor. (CBS/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — There was a big surprise Friday night in Chicago politics as a coalition of African-American leaders closed in on picking a consensus candidate for mayor.

The coalition has been working for weeks to interview potential candidates, but a decision wasn’t expected anytime soon. CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine has the list of four names the Chicago Coalition for Mayor – an organization of more than 20 African-American businesses and interest groups – plans to release on Saturday.

One surprise on the list is Larry Rogers Jr., a young but experienced trial attorney and a campaign veteran who says it’s time for new blood. The other three on the list are State Senator and South Side minister James Meeks, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis.

Not everyone was happy with the choices.

“It had to be an honest and honorable process. I have some problems with the process. I been having problems with the process from the first day and that did not endear me in that room,” said State Sen. Rickey Hendon.

So it was no surprise that Hendon is not among four semifinalists, although Hendon has already announced he is running.

Rogers, a commissioner on the Cook County Board of Review – who is easily the least prominent of the four names on the list – has been behind the scenes of countless campaigns.

“I think it’s time for new leadership. I really think the city is ready to see the next generation step up to the plate and take on the reins,” Rogers said.

The other candidates selected come as no surprise.

Meeks said his “candidacy is all but official” and he already has a campaign team in place. He plans to announce right after the Nov. 2 election and has indicated before that he might run regardless of whether he’s picked by the coalition.

Davis, on the other hand, said Friday that he’d run only if he’s the consensus candidate.

“Whatever they come up with, that’s gonna be the candidate and I would hope all of the other candidates would support that person,” Davis said. “I know I would. I intend to.

Braun has raised the eyebrows of many and perhaps the ire of some, by hiring high-profile consultants like Victor Reyes, Daley’s former political operative, and Mike Noonan, a former political aide to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.

Hendon said Braun’s inclusion as a semifinalist was “a total insult.”

“My phone has been ringin’ off the hook from some of the people on that selection committee saying, ‘What the hell did Carol do?’” Hendon said. “We may as well, you know, get on our knees and ask Mayor Daley to run again.

Braun’s reaction?

“That comment isn’t even worthy of a response,” she said.

Trying to unite everyone behind a single candidate may be difficult.

“It’s not being based on race, I don’t think,” Davis said. “I think the African-American community leadership decided that they wanted to play in the upcoming election and that the best way to play without being scattered all over the place was to try to agree on a candidate.”

The coalition probably will come up with a candidate to throw its support behind, but whether those who aren’t picked will drop up and line up behind that so-called consensus candidate seems unlikely.

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