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In the aftermath of Larry Suffredin’s defeat in Tuesday’s state’s attorney election, I think it’s time for the so-called Claypool Democrats to reconsider what seems to be their sole strategy for wooing black voters: securing the endorsement of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
Jackson’s stamp of approval didn’t help Cook County Board commissioner Forrest Claypool, the titular head of this north lakefront faction, defeat John Stroger in the 2006 primary for county board president.
And this time his nod did little to help Suffredin beat Anita Alvarez. Running in a field of six candidates, Suffredin did well on the north side and in Evanston, where he lives. But despite Jackson’s endorsement, he scored relatively poorly in the black wards, where reformers need to run strong in order to offset the machine. In Jackson’s Seventh Ward home base, Suffredin managed to win 22 percent of the vote. But, perhaps predictably, that was half of what alderman Howard Brookins got. Suffredin only won 15 percent of the vote in the Eighth Ward, Stroger’s base; 15 percent in the Ninth Ward, where alderman Anthony Beale, another Jackson ally, resides; 14 percent in the 21st Ward; and so on and so forth.
Obviously, Jackson and the Claypoolians have reasons for their political alliance. Jackson gets an inroad on the north lakefront should he ever work up the courage to take on Mayor Daley. And the Claypoolians get an inroad on the south and west sides — though evidently not much of one.
In reality, it’s clear that their reform agenda isn’t resonating with black voters — in part because it’s questionable that they are reformers. Claypool and Suffredin may blast Stroger, but they endorse Daley, uttering nary a peep about the scandals, property tax scams, and waste coming out of City Hall. And Suffredin’s work as a lobbyist for tobacco and the gambling industry doesn’t exactly make him look squeaky clean.