There was a time when the idea of Carol Moseley Braun as mayor of Chicago sounded exciting.
That time was 1992. It was The Year of the Woman in politics, and Moseley Braun, who was then Cook County Recorder of Deeds, jumped into the race because she was outraged by Sen. Alan Dixon’s vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
When Moseley Braun was elected to the U.S. Senate she had the chance to become one of the most important politicians in Chicago history. But she blew it.
In his autobiography, P.S., fellow senator Paul Simon summed up his colleague’s problems in one sentence: “She fell in love with the wrong person -- easy for someone else to say.”
Moseley Braun’s campaign manager/fiancee, Kgosie Matthews, earned $15,000 a month for his services, was accused of sexual harassment by other staffers and took Moseley-Braun on a month-long vacation after the election. The couple never married, but they stayed friends long enough for Matthews to introduce the senator to one of his lobbying clients, Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha.
Matthews left Moseley Braun with nothing but a ruined political reputation. After losing to the vapid Peter Fitzgerald in 1998, Moseley Braun declared herself a “recovering politician.” She hasn’t recovered yet.
In 2004, she tried to reclaim her old Senate seat. State sen. Barack Obama also wanted the seat, but wouldn’t run as long as Moseley Braun was in the field to split the black vote. Obama’s money man, John Rogers Jr., had also served as Moseley Braun’s finance chair. Rogers tried to find Moseley Braun a job to keep her out of the race. He couldn’t, even after approaching Bank One’s Jamie Dimon. But Rogers did help convince Moseley Braun she didn’t have the support for a Senate race. The ex-senator settled on a symbolic run for president.
Winning countywide and statewide should have qualified Moseley Braun for a mayoral run. She was an excellent state representative and recorder of deeds. But she reached her level of incompetence in the U.S. Senate, a bigger office than she was prepared to occupy.
A lot of people had big years in 1992: Michael Jordan, Troy Aikman, Color Me Badd. No one is clamoring for their comebacks. Moseley Braun insists she’s running for mayor in response to a “draft,” but no one is clamoring for her comeback, either.