Black Republicans See Opportunity in Race for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Seat
Will County, IL—Potential Republican candidates in the upcoming special election over embattled former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.’s, 2nd district seat expressed optimism in a Will County Republicans meeting last Thursday night.
Don’t tell the mainstream media, but so far, all four Republican candidates have one thing in common. They’re black.
Three of the four candidates were present at the meeting to discuss who they were and why they are running. For the most part, the candidates have similar positions on the issues but not without some differences.
Paul McKinley, an outspoken grassroots activist against the Chicago Machine and resident of the 2nddistrict’s urban community on the south side of Chicago, told voters, “The reason I feel like I need to run for this district, is I have been fighting the Jacksons for years… There are two black Americas, and they’re separate and unequal. There are the black folks that think we just work for them and then there’s the rest of us that get used by them, and Jesse Jackson Jr., was one of them.”
McKinley went on to explain his strong beliefs in the first and second amendments and his staunch opposition to same-sex marriage. He discussed how the charge for President Obama’s task force against gun ownership is being led right here in Chicago and explained how banning gun ownership in housing projects like Chicago’s Cabrini Green in the ‘80s simply stripped the rights away from citizens and essentially advertised to all the criminals, “ain’t nobody in this building got a gun, you can go in there and do what ever you want to do.”
McKinley closed his remarks by confessing to the crowd some of his own troubled past. “I am an ex-offender,” he paused, “trying to prevent the next offender,” alluding to the more recent records of Democrat and Republican politicians in Illinois and Chicago. That may not sit well with some voters, but McKinley’s candor was received with warm applause.
Diane Marie Harris, also seeking the 2nd district seat, is an active member of the Republican Party and boasted her card-carrying status. She is the 23rd Precinct Committeeman and the 2nd Vice President of Will County Republican Women. Harris has run for Congress before in Illinois' 11th district.
Harris told the crowd, “I am a pro-life supporter, I am a second amendment supporter, I support gun control laws with reasonable safety measures.” As congresswoman, Harris told said, “I will fight for an American jobs act that will make sure good paying jobs are available and the minimum wage is increased.”
Eric M. Wallace, a Ph.D in biblical studies, also threw his hat in the ring. Wallace is the publisher of a conservative publication, Freedom’s Journal Magazine. Wallace articulated the importance of this race and the likely possibility that if the Republican Party can make this a close enough election, it will draw major national attention. Wallace suggested the need to broaden the GOP's relationship with the African-American community.
Wallace articulated his views and strategy with a new acronym to reach out to people that conservative principles don’t resonate with, called RISE—responsible government, individual freedom and fidelity, strong family values, and economic empowerment. Wallace also echoed McKinley’s opposition to same-sex marriage, noting the unpopularity of the issue within the African-American community.
While it is early on in the special election cycle, the candidates have two weeks left to get the required signatures to get on the ballot for the February 26 primary election. After the signature process, whoever is on the ballot can get to work to win a primary that will most likely go ignored by the Chicago media.
But once the general election is in full swing, there will be no other major elections to compete with for attention. America will be one month into President Obama’s second term, and conservatives will have a chance to make their voices heard and force mainstream media coverage of a race that would otherwise never get it, throwing a very safe blue seat up in the air.