CHICAGO (CBS) – A coalition of African-American business and community leaders has narrowed its choices for a consensus black candidate for mayor down to two finalists: former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and trial attorney Larry Rogers Jr.
The Chicago Coalition for Mayor announced its decision Thursday afternoon, after what it described as a “heated and passionate debate” on Wednesday.
“The room was filled with emotion. The discussion lasted several hours,” the coalition said in a statement on Friday. “Finally, the Chicago Coalition for Mayor, by a majority vote, accepted the Selection Committee’s recommendation of … Carol Moseley Braun and … Larry Rogers as the final two 2011 consensus candidates for Mayor of the City of Chicago.”
Rogers and Braun will meet with the coalition again soon to complete the group’s selection process.
Braun and Rogers were among four semifinalists the coalition. The two semifinalists who were not selected by the group are James Meeks, a state senator and prominent South Side pastor, and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis.
Rogers’ inclusion as a finalist comes as a bit of a surprise, especially with Meeks missing the cut, considering he is the popular pastor of the 20,000-member Salem Baptist Church.
Rogers is a young but experienced trial attorney and a campaign veteran who says it’s time for new blood. He’s also a commissioner on the Cook County Board of Review who is easily the least prominent of the four names on the list, but 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.
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.
The former U.S. Senator and ambassador has said her appeal to voters transcends race and economic status.
“Anybody who thinks they can appeal to just one segment of Chicago and govern is mistaken and fooling themselves,” Braun said.
She said she has wide support because of her record and credentials. Braun claims being defeated by Peter Fitzgerald in her run for re-election should not reflect on her appeal to Chicago voters.
She attributes that loss to Fitzgerald’s “millions and millions of dollars” and “dirty tricks” and downstate voters failing to support her.
The Chicago Coalition for Mayor – an organization of more than 20 African-American businesses and interest groups – has been in the process of selecting a consensus candidate, so as not to have two African-American candidates splitting the vote.
However, Meeks has long indicated that he is planning to run regardless of the coalition’s decision. He has said his “candidacy is all but official” and he already has a campaign team in place.
Davis, on the other hand, previously said he’d run only if he’s the consensus candidate.