CHICAGO (CBS) — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jim Oberweis opened a new campaign office Tuesday in the Woodlawn neighborhood, and said for too long, Republicans have ignored the African American community.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports Oberweis acknowledged he won’t beat U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin without the black vote as he opened a campaign office at 66th Street and King Drive.
“I think, in a lot of cases, Republicans are afraid to go into the community. I mean, as crazy as that sounds, it’s ridiculous,” he said. “If I do win this seat, I won’t forget the help of this community.”
Oberweis, a Republican state senator from Sugar Grove, was flanked by prominent black ministers who have endorsed him over Durbin.
“No longer is the African American community going to be under the shackles of one party,” said Rev. Corey Brooks, pastor of New Beginnings Church in Woodlawn.
Brooks has endorsed Oberweis in his bid against Durbin; he’s also thrown his support behind Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner in his race against Gov. Pat Quinn.
Brooks and the other ministers have not received anything from Rauner or Durbin in exchange for their support.
“Other than a little ice cream here and there,” Oberweis interjected.
Brooks and other pastors bristled at the suggestion from some Democrats that their support was bought.
“We are not for sale, and maybe the reason they why feel that way is because they bought votes for so long,” Brooks said.
Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church in the Austin neighborhood, said it’s insulting to suggest the pastors supporting Rauner and Oberweis were bought.
“That an African-American community leader can’t have an independent thought; we are not slaves,” he said. “I cannot be bought.”
Brooks said the black community is in shambles, and across the country Democrats have done nothing to solve the problems.
The Durbin campaign suggested, with Oberweis in office, the problems will only get worse. The Durbin campaign said Oberweis is for everything the black community is against, and his extreme agenda would put more people in poverty and more guns on the streets.