The scramble is on to fill the congressional seat that Jesse Jackson, Jr. had to abandon due to mental illness. And, according to Politico, the black establishment is fearful that the seat might fall into the hands — not of a Republican; there’s no way — but a white.
The concern is that former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, a white Democrat and veteran of suburban Chicago politics, will win the Democratic primary in Illinois’ Second District because the black vote will split among multiple black candidates. Halvorson was trounced by Jackson in this year’s primary. Despite carrying the suburbs, she won only about 30 percent of the total vote. Thus, the black establishment actually has little to fear unless, say, three credible black candidates enter the race. I suspect that, this being Chicago, the establishment will make sure it doesn’t happen.
Still, the question lingers, what would be so horrible about a white representing this district. Attempting to articulate the concern, Delmarie Cobb, a longtime Democratic political consultant in Chicago who formerly worked for Jesse Jackson Jr., said “we can’t afford to lose a black voice in Congress.”
This is nonsense. A Halvorson victory would reduce black representation in the House by only 2.5 percent. Moreover, Congress has been without Jackson’s “black voice” for a while now; he has been on a medical leave of absence. The Republic has survived and blacks have hardly been silent in the halls of Congress.
We should also note that Illinois’ Second District hasn’t had much luck with its African-American congressmen. Like Jackson, his two predecessors — Gus Savage and Mel Reynolds — proved to be embarrassments. Indeed, all three ran into trouble with the law.
So, white or not, Halvorson would likely be a substantial upgrade. Persumably, it is racism that makes the black establishment so fearful that she might win.