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Sen. Meeks bows out of mayoral race: ‘Our house is divided’

James Meeks

James Meeks

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Updated: May 17, 2012 2:28PM

State Sen. James Meeks has dropped out of the mayoral race.

In an e-mail sent to media Thursday afternoon, Meeks — who also heads Salem Baptist Church on the South Side — said he was ending his campaign.

Meeks met with mayoral challengers U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to unite behind a consensus black candidate, the Sun-Times reported. Davis said after the meeting it was possible one or more candidates would drop out, but a spokesman for Meeks denied he would exit the race.

In his e-mail, Meeks said with four black candidates still in the race, “our house is divided.’’

He continued: “I have met with each of the four other African-American candidates and urged them in the strongest terms to consider withdrawing from the race in the interest of unity and for the greater good of our community.”

No chance, Davis and Braun told the Chicago Sun-Times.

While Meeks is dropping out, Davis says he’s “dropping in,” and is moving ahead with planned fund-raisers, endorsement sessions and town hall discussions. I’m moving ahead.”

Moseley Braun spokeswoman Renee Ferguson said the former senator also is “in the race for good.”

In a long statement, Meeks wrote: “It is long past time that we build on the tremendous successes of the great Harold Washington and his administration by electing another

African-American to become our mayor. But as long as our community remains divided and splintered — to the specific advantage of the front-running, status quo candidates — we will never see things improve. We need to speak with one voice.

“So, even as I continue to believe that I would be both the best prepared and the most electorally viable candidate in this race, I have chosen to lead by example. I am hereby announcing my withdrawal from this race, and am urging the other African-American candidates to do likewise.

“In so doing, I am endorsing no one person; rather, I am asking all of the African-American candidates to subordinate their own candidacies to the greater good of our city and our community, and submit to a caucus of clergy, elected officials, and residents whose sole purpose shall be to winnow the remaining field down to one candidate. Under no circumstances

will I be a candidate for Mayor this year; I want to be a part of this process, and there should be no question about my motives.’’

Meeks came under fire last week for suggesting that only blacks be allowed to compete for minority set-aside contracts. He later backtracked.

Davis said he doesn’t believe Meeks meant to suggest that all black candidates drop out of the race.

“Maybe he meant to say he was urging all African-American candidates to drop out except one,” Davis said. “Urging all African-American candidates to drop out? I can’t imagine that is what he meant.”

Davis said he plans to continue to have discussions with Moseley Braun.

“I’ve got a feeling she and I will continue to talk and meet and do whatever people do,” Davis said.

But will Moseley Braun remain his competition?

“I don’t know about that,” Davis said. “I’m just a mere politician. Not a prophet.”

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