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How Carol Moseley Braun Won That Precinct

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How Carol Moseley Braun Won That Precinct

By now, most of Chicago knows that Rahm Emanuel overwhelmingly won Chicago's black vote despite the prescense of a so-called consensus candidate.

Turns out Emanuel's domination wasn't total and complete, Carol Moseley Braun won one precinct.

A Sun-Times investigation has uncovered the secret of Moseley Braun’s success.

In last month’s mayoral election, Moseley Braun shocked the political establishment by winning a precinct, despite raising less than $500,000 and accusing a political opponent of being “strung out on crack.” In a church, no less.

Sun-Times reporters Art Golab and Abdon M. Pallasch found the precinct, near the corner of 43rd and Wentworth. It consists mainly of the Minnie Riperton Apartments, a senior housing complex named for the late singer of “Lovin’ You.”  Riperton was born the same year as Moseley Braun and went to high school in Hyde Park, the neighborhood Moseley Braun represented in the state legislature, but that wasn’t the key to her victory. It was a campaign volunteer who worked that precinct hard.

David Whitehead, 71, a retiree who was a frequent — and unsuccessful — candidate for alderman and other public offices in the1980s and 1990s, including a loss in a 1996 Illinois Senate race to Obama.

Whitehead says he worked to get out the vote for Braun at the Riperton complex.

“I told people that, with my experience and what I know about these candidates . . . that Carol would be a better person,” says Whitehead.

Braun carried the precinct with 83 votes, to Emanuel’s 59.

Whitehead figures Braun would have done even better there if his old opponent hadn’t backed Emanuel.

“The president came on the TV and WVON radio saying, ‘I support Rahm Emanuel, he’s a good guy, he’s qualified,’ ” Whitehead says.

Obama’s endorsement helped Emanuel carry every other black-majority precinct, and 2,106 of 2,570 precincts citywide. But not the 14th precinct of the 3rd Ward. Thanks to Whitehead, Moseley Braun is mayor of the Minnie Riperton Apartments.

As Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens and change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."  

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

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