“I’m not sold on him,” Rush said Thursday. “I don’t want just the same old stuff. We want a senator who is willing to work hard on the real issues that this state is confronted with.”
Clearly, Rush would prefer to see a black senator. He endorsed Cheryle Robinson Jackson in the primary, and he was Roland Burris’s most vociferous supporter after Burris was appointed to the Senate. Rush made Burris’s appointment a racial issue.
“We need to have an African-American in the Senate,” Rush said at the press conference where then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich introduced Burris as his choice. “I would ask you not to hang or lynch the appointee as you would the appointer.”
When the Senate leadership discussed blocking Burris from taking the seat, Rush compared them to George Wallace and Bull Connor, using dogs and firehoses to keep a black man out of the Senate.
There’s nothing wrong with a black politician believing there should be one African-American in the 100-member Senate. And as a congressman from Illinois, the only state willing to elect a black senator, Rush is in a special position to ensure it happens.
Rush would have more credibility, though, if he hadn’t allowed spite to interfere with the black community’s best interests. In 2004, when Barack Obama ran for the Senate, Rush endorsed … Blair Hull. Rush was still angry at Obama for trying to take his congressional seat in 2000. And Hull gave Rush’s half-brother a $12,000-a-month job on the campaign.
After the primary, though, Rush swallowed his pride and endorsed Obama. As a black politician, he had no choice. Rush seems to feel he has a choice with Giannoulias, who is now trying to snatch away Burris’s seat two months early by putting his name up for the special Senate election.
Rush isn’t the only black politician who’s not sold on Giannoulias. In May, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. told Politico, “I like Alexi Giannoulias, but I have great respect for Mark Kirk and his service to the people of Illinois,” leading to speculation that he might endorse Kirk. (Shortly after, Jackson affirmed that he was supporting Giannoulias.)
Clearly, the black community wanted to keep that Senate seat. And if Giannoulias loses, they can try to reclaim it in 2016.