Meeks Withdraws From Mayor’s Race

Updated: 12/24/10 9:12 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) – State Sen. Rev. James Meeks (D-Chicago) issued a call Thursday to his fellow African-American candidates to rally behind one black contender for mayor of Chicago, as he himself dropped out of the race.

But it appears that the two most prominent of the remaining blacks will continue their campaigns.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts Reports

Rev. Meeks said in a statement announcing the decision that Chicago’s African-Americans “need to speak with one voice.”

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis responded with a booming, “I am in the race.”

Former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun said, “There’s two Hispanics in the race,” then said it is too early to determine how many candidates will campaign actively to the end.

Both said that they hope to attract Meeks’ supporters and eventually earn his endorsement. Both have busy schedules over the holidays.

Meeks said he withdrew only after making the plea directly to Davis and Moseley Braun. But he won’t say whom he will support.

Meeks said in his statement that the issues that prompted him to run for mayor remain unresolved. He said the biggest problem “is one of vision” and said that it is “long past time” to build on the “tremendous successes” of the late Mayor Harold Washington.

“As long as our community remains divided and splintered — to the specific advantage of the front-running, status quo candidates — we will never see things improve,” Meeks said.

Both Moseley Braun and Davis were surprised by Meeks’ withdrawal.

Moseley Braun said she believes that Rev. Meeks should continue to be part of any and all discussions about the city’s priorities in a new administration.

Meeks declined to elaborate on his statement through a spokesman, who said that the senator would be spending the holiday weekend with his family.

But Meeks said the issues that prompted him to run remain unresolved, including the city’s spending, its schools and the way the city delivers services.

So why did he drop out? CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine says the short answer is that he knew he couldn’t win.

But the fact is he began dropping hints about withdrawing from the race on the same radio show where long-shot candidacy became an impossible dream.

The outspoken Meeks generated controversy last week when he suggested in a radio interview that only blacks should be considered minorities where city minority contract set-asides are concerned.

Speaking in an interview on WVON radio, Meeks’ exact words were: “I think that the word minorities from our standpoint should mean African-Americans. I don’t think women, Asians and Hispanics should be able to use that title.”

The firestorm over that statement forced Meeks to back off and admit he misspoke, but for all practical purposes, the campaign ended there.

And led to Thursday’s statement: “Our house is divided. I have met with each of the four other African-American candidates and urged them in the strongest terms to consider withdrawing from the race in the interest of unity.”

There could also be a boost for Gery Chico as well, since Republican Party Chief Andy McKenna Jr. had been Meeks’ campaign finance co-chairman. Chico’s campaign could be attractive to McKenna and other Republicans as well.

Shortly after Meeks’ announcement, rumors started circulating that Davis, too, would back out of the race. The congressman quickly quashed the idea.

“Of course my campaign is moving ahead. We have town hall meetings scheduled for next week,” Davis said.

Some voters say the mayoral race is still too crowded.

“It would be really difficult to choose one because I want to say the market was being saturated,” Kenya Sadler, eating dinner in Bronzeville, told CBS 2’s Pamela Jones.

  • Me

    Senator Meeks haas made a very good decision in withdrawing himself from the mayoral race due to the fact there is enough going on that splits up the black voters from pulling together and voting for one black represenative for the black voters. There are more than enough things that usually separate the votes here in Chicago and nationally.

    • Ted

      I think State Senator Meeks made the right decision to drop-out of the Chicago mayor race . In my opinon he shouldn’t even be a State Senator because he is a Pastor of a chruch and that is a conflict with the separation of chruch and state. Furthermore, this consesus candidate idea is redundant . The People of Chicago will decide who they want as Mayor so just let them decide.

  • AK

    this was the best decision Meeks could have make for the taxpayers of Chicago…based on his comments, this election was all about race and entitlement!

  • JG

    Can you just imagine what Meeks and the rest would do if there were a White Caucus?

  • Average Guy

    No, Reverend Senator Meek should be in politics. He has played the jester spewing his ideas while blurring the line of church and state. I don’t believe clergy should be engaged in political offices. First State Senator, then Mayor of a progressive (segregated) major city like Chicago? “Whoa buddy Getting kinda ahead of yourself.”

  • streamwood bill

    Now let’s see what the other black candidates have on their plate. Perfect opportunity to get some ideas presented so that voters can decide. Meeks was toxic. now he is gone, Good for Chicago.

  • Chilly Willy

    Why is CBS inferring on the 10 p.m. broadcast that there are only 2 African American canidates left? In addition to Braun and Davis there are 3 more.

  • FOR YU


  • LOTD

    Another worthless self-serving shine that will be that crying racism caused him to drop out!!! Byebye “mo-fo”. Don’t worry as I’m sure the homies in your “church” will still support your life style!!

  • jack

    No wonder with his racist comments he saw the handwriting on the wall does he preach the same way in his church

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