Everyone in Chicago wants to be mayor and, therefore, no one will be.
￼I remember Harold Washington in my living room, Lou Palmer, Conrad Worrell, and others. And the greatest organizer, who was also executive Director of Operation PUSH the late Joe Gardner. They were trying to convince Congressman Harold Washington to run for mayor. Harold was a machine politician. He understood the science of politics, and he said he would only consider it if you raised $250,000 in 1982-83 dollars and ￼ he would be the only candidate in the race were his two requirements for giving up his cushy job in Congress. He also added register 100,000 or more voters. I think they registered 150,000..I heard it with my own two ears. He threw that number out there because he knew these Negroes were all talk and would put up no money. They ended up raising $500,000 in 1983 dollars. I bet that is $5 million today and that’s a start.
￼Today everybody has the runs, and therefore no one will win. ￼ Some are running to get their names out there, some are running for name recognition, some are running because they are backed by the democratic machine and are stalking horse candidates. That’s what Harold and Lou Palmer and Conrad Worrell, understood. No one has a plan to clear the field.
Most of the alderman running may do well in their wards, but they are not known across the city. Other candidates may be well-known across the city, but they don’t have a base. That probably leaves us with a well-funded incumbent mayor and Chuy Garcia, who has been a very good and honorable public servant.
And one more thing, today there’s no one like Jesse Jackson Senior, who registered people to vote ward by ward and helped keep everyone accountable to Harold’s plan for victory. If you jumped in that race, the black community was prepared to run you out of Chicago. We had been disrespected by Jane Byrne, and we weren’t having it. Yes, that is an important role because the machine had black alderman in it li￼ke ￼Stroger, Cecil Partee, Roland Burris, the Shaw Brothers, Beavers, and others who were￼ always loyal to the machine. In 1983 it was Harold Washington versus Jane Byrne, and Richard Daley the community was United and the field was clear and in the general election there was a weak candidate named Bernard Epton. That’s where Harold came from. He beat the Democrats and united the party and interestingly enough a significant number of white Democrats like Ed
Vrdolyak supported Epton and would challenge Harold as mayor. ￼ There was serious racial tension in the Democratic Party. Harold did not come from a place of ego, although he had one. ￼
￼He would have looked at this arrangement right here and he would’ve said “I’m going to keep my job in DC.” ￼ Who could blame him?