Black Chicago Mayoral Candidate Maximizes Base
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Now, Cheryl mentioned an African-American congressman who dropped out. We're going to talk with that congressman next - Democratic Congressman Danny Davis of Chicago.
Congressman, good morning.
Representative DANNY DAVIS (Democrat, Illinois): Well, good morning. How are you doing?
INSKEEP: I'm doing fine. Thank you very much.
We heard in that report an activist say of the black community, it may be our turn again. Is it the black community's turn to have the mayor of Chicago?
Rep. DAVIS: Chicago is one of the most segregated big cities in North America. And most population groups live in three community areas. In order to win an election, one would definitely need to maximize the potential of a base, because many of the individual citizens are isolated from each other. And so their thinking is kind of based along the lines of the community to some degree where they live.
INSKEEP: Are you saying that Chicago is too segregated even in 2011 for a candidate to really broadly appeal to lots of different kinds of people based on an idea, as opposed to an identity?
Rep. DAVIS: Well, it's not impossible, but it's a long stretch. And individuals have to work extremely hard. They have to spend time in places where they don't normally go. If you don't, then, of course, you've got to rely upon mass media. It takes a lot of money to run television commercials and radio ads in Chicago for two months.
INSKEEP: Now, when you withdrew from the race as part of an effort to unify the black vote behind one candidate, is part of the presumption there that people who are African-American in Chicago had better vote for that one candidate?
Rep. DAVIS: Well, I withdrew because I knew that coming from the same philosophical community as Carol Moseley Braun, coming from basically the same geographic community, and coming from essentially the same resource community, that we would split all of that. I just believe that Carol Moseley Braun think more like I think, would do more things the same way I would do them. And you should vote for people, I think, who think most like you.
INSKEEP: Congressman, some of the news reports of this have suggested that African-American politicians wanted to unify, if possible, behind a single candidate in part because they wanted to be sure to be able to overcome the candidacy of Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's former chief of staff. Is there some kind of friction between Rahm Emanuel and African-American politicians in Chicago?
Rep. DAVIS: Well, I'm not so sure that they just wanted to overcome friction or the candidacy of Rahm Emanuel. I think Rahm Emanuel was projected as the front-runner.
INSKEEP: But is there some friction with Rahm Emanuel specifically and black politicians in Chicago?
Rep. DAVIS: Well, I don't know about Chicago, but there has been - you know, Rahm did not necessarily enjoy the best relationship with the Congressional Black Caucus. I mean, that's kind of where Rahm operated, you know, out of the White House.
INSKEEP: Why did he not have a good relationship with the Congressional Black Caucus?
Rep. DAVIS: Well, partly because some of the policies that - you know, the Congressional Black Caucus has wanted the Obama administration to do more of what I would call targeting, that is to deal specifically with some of the disparities that exist.
INSKEEP: You're talking about helping the poor, helping minorities, crafting bills that are more specific to that goal.
Rep. DAVIS: Absolute, directly. I mean, that saves it.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Rep. DAVIS: You know, there are some instances where the best help for certain situations is really money. And you can talk everything else, but if there is no money, there is no resource. I mean, you talk about a city like Chicago, where 50 percent of the African-American males between the ages of 16 and 22 don't go to school and don't have a job. They need something special, you know what I mean?
INSKEEP: Congressman Danny Davis of Chicago, thanks very much.
Rep. DAVIS: Thank you. It's my pleasure.
(Soundbite of music)
INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.
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