Earlier this week, Congressman Danny Davis issued a warning to former President Bill Clinton: steer clear of Chicago.
According to Davis, Clinton -- America's supposed "first black president" -- is in danger of hurting his own reputation among Chicago's African America community. The Chicago Tribune reported:
Davis, a veteran West Side congressman, said he is "seriously concerned and disturbed" by information Emanuel's campaign released a few days ago that Clinton will travel to Chicago next month to support his former aide. Emanuel worked in the Clinton White House before serving as a North Side congressman and chief of staff to President Barack Obama.
"The African-American community has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Clintons, however it appears as though some of that relationship maybe fractured and perhaps even broken should former President Clinton come to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago's black community," Davis said in a statement. "We respectfully request and urge former President Clinton not to become involved in the Chicago mayoral election."
Davis denies his statements are playing the race card and says anyone who think so is reading to much into his comments. "You don't threaten friends," Davis said of Clinton. "But it's a friendship relationship. It's an affinity relationship. It's not a race relationship. ... We both grew up in Arkansas. We have a homeboy relationship. It doesn't have racial connotations."
Davis said his call for Clinton to butt out is partly strategic -- Davis feels Clinton will help Emanuel win votes.
"I'm saying, 'Don't come in and campaign against me. Don't do that.' Sure Rahm worked for him, but a lot of us worked with him and for him," Davis said. "Why not stay out of this one? Or go down to Arkansas where the weather in nice."
But Davis and Carol Moseley Braun -- the two most prominent black candidates in the Chicago mayoral race -- met Thursday to discuss the state of their campaigns against the presumed front-runner, Rahm Emanuel -- Clinton's favored candidate. Also at the meeting was Rev. Jesse Jackson who told WGN-TV that there must be only one black candidate in the race and called on Clinton to abandon plans to campaign for Emanuel.
Jackson says African-Americans and Hispanics were among Clinton's biggest supporters; and he says, rather than offend his most loyal friends, Clinton should call off his campaign trip.
"[H]ere are our friends and political allies, …family members. [Clinton] chose, it seems, Rahm over Danny and Carol and del Valle and Chico. He chose Emanuel over the two most loyal communities to him from Arkansas to Washington. It’s a bit disappointing, but that, too, will pass.”
Meanwhile, Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun Times says the candidates are wasting their time with worry over Clinton's support for Emanuel:
From the start, black mayoral candidates have spent too much time worrying about Emanuel’s business instead of taking care of their own.
This latest faux pas by Rep. Danny Davis illustrates my point.
Davis shouldn’t be the least bit stressed that former President Bill Clinton is planning to appear in Chicago to support Emanuel, who was a fund-raiser and top White House adviser during the Clinton White House years.
But instead of down-playing Clinton’s influence among African-American voters in Chicago, Davis exploded with a warning that can be interpreted as “playing the race card.” ...
Those African Americans who see Mayor Daley’s departure as an opportunity to elect a black mayor aren’t going to be swayed by Clinton’s charm. And given Emanuel’s relationship with President Obama, blacks who support Emanuel don’t need Clinton to give them cover.
None of the black candidates need worry about the Clinton factor. What these candidates need to be concerned about is the possibility that they may end up canceling each other out on Feb. 22, since early polls show Emanuel has the lead in this contest.