An Unlikely Toss-Up: the Illinois Governor’s Office

An Unlikely Toss-Up: the Illinois Governor’s Office

The midterms are coming! And as is predictable, most of the national attention is focused on control of the Senate. What is largely being ignored - particularly in states where it has never been much of a contest - is control of the governor's office. Illinois has traditionally been one such state.

I have joked before in articles and on my own radio podcast that I speak from my home in the People's Republic of Illinois. Here in Illinois, our governors generally share two traits: the letter D behind their names, and the likelihood that they will be indicted either during or immediately following their time in office.But for the first time in a long time, it looks like that may change.

Back in April, former Illinois state senator and Pastor of Chicago's Salem Baptist Church began to turn the tide. African American Reverend James Meeks, whose mega-church boasts a congregation of some 15,000, spoke critically of the Democrat party in general and of Governor Pat Quinn specifically.

The Democrat Party always assumes that 97% of the African American vote will go to the Democrat Party. If that assumption is true, they never have to work for our vote… Our schools are still broken and they are getting worse.We're last in employment or business. Our neighborhoods are deplorable. And we still get the same promises from the Democrat Party, but we don't get any deliverable. I think it's time that we look at a new candidate.

Although Meeks has no intention of preaching politics from the pulpit, he believes that he wields enough influence in the African American community to sway some of the vote toward Republican challenger Bruce Rauner.

And in the months since he began ramping up his efforts, it has become clear that he may be correct in his assessment. Just last week, a coalition of African American pastors from Chicago made a statement confirming their support for Rauner. They cited many of the same points brought to light by Reverend Meeks earlier this year, specifically that Governor Pat Quinn has not delivered on promises made regarding fixing the school system and working to decrease unemployment rates. Noting that Republican candidate Bruce Rauner has already donated money from his personal wealth to assist floundering Chicago schools, Pastor Willie Cotton (Holy Bible Missionary Baptist Church) called Rauner, “the right man for Illinois.”

History suggests that a statewide race in Illinois is virtually impossible to win without Chicago, and to gain ground in Chicago a candidate must be able to pull some of the African American vote. Time will tell if the recommendation of their pastors is enough to make that happen for Bruce Rauner, and the Illinois that exists outside the collar counties waits and watches with fingers crossed.

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