U.S. Rep Bobby Rush, who serves a predominantly African-American district on Chicago's South Side, is speaking out against efforts by Illinois governor candidate Bruce Rauner, a Republican, to lure black voters away from the Democratic Party and incumbent Pat Quinn.
The congressman, a Democrat, dismissed the wealthy Winnetka investor's overtures—which include donating $1 million to a South Side business owner and using former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's scathing anti-Quinn remarks in a campaign ad—at a pro-Quinn event on Monday, saying: "I don't know him. But he thinks that just because he is rich and got a lot of money that he can buy these people and people who look like these people. Well, he is mistaken. We're not for sale. We are for Pat Quinn."
Rush received loud applause making his remarks alongside Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in town to stump for the party's congressional candidates here, reports the Chicago Sun-Times, which quoted Schultz as saying, "It's this community whose shoulders (Quinn) will stand on and who will carry him back. Because this is a community that understands what is at stake. ... Gov. Quinn's opponent seems to think we were all born last night."
Striking back, Team Rauner responded: "Under Pat Quinn, nearly 1 in 5 African-American men in Illinois were unemployed last year. That's unacceptable. Bruce Rauner is the only candidate with a plan to bring economic empowerment and opportunity to every African American family in Illinois."
Rauner, meanwhile, has advanced in securing unlikely support from business and religious leaders within Chicago's African-American community who feel Illinois' powerful Democrats have ignored their interests and taken their votes granted. This summer, the venture capitalist-turned-political rookie stoked controversy when he delivered checks worth $1 million to Gregg Brown's South Side Community Federal Credit Union, prompting Team Rauner to accuse him of brazen vote-buying tactics. At the time, Rauner told the ChicagoTribune: "I thought there was a real opportunity there. They are obviously small and have their challenges, but we decided to move forward."
Defending Rauner's largesse to the Trib last week, Mark Allen, who chairs the group National Black Wall Street Chicago, said: "When Pat Quinn spends $10 million for an issue like Safe Passage, what do you think he's doing?" asked Allen, referring to a program for safeguarding Chicago schoolchildren. "Every dollar is to try to get votes."