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Todd Stroger's Endorsement: More Important Than You Realize

By Kevin Robinson in News on Oct 14, 2009 2:00PM

A thematic representation of black population centers in Chicago, via Wikipedia.
As we mentioned on Monday, Todd Stroger got his endorsement this week from a large group of black ministers that worry other black candidates in the Cook County board president race will split the vote, guaranteeing that Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Terrence O'Brien, the lone white candidate in the race, will win. “This community needs a unified front to address the issues that are pressing against our people,” said senior bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Stroger is facing three other black candidates in the race for county board president: 4th Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Dorothy Brown and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis. Preckwinkle says that even without the endorsement, her campaign will carry on. And Davis cited his record as a candidate who "represent[s] diversity." In a statement released to the press Preckwinkle said that "the President of Cook County has to represent the whole of Cook County, not just one community. This isn't just a race for African-Americans, it's a race for County Board President. .... This race is about selecting a leader who can represent the interests of every community and bring the real and responsible change Cook County needs. This isn't an African-American primary, this is a Democratic primary."

It might be easy to dismiss the endorsement as typical Chicago-style cronyism, but such a large endorsement by black ministers shouldn't be taken lightly. Individually they might not have enough influence to sway significant numbers of voters, but as a block, black clergy are an important force in the black community. And at 1.4 million in Chicago alone, Cook County's black population represents a large constituency. Stroger says that the ministers, including Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, will help tell their congregations the truth about what a great job he has done as board president. The primary is February 02, 2010.