Meeks, Davis, Braun meet — will any drop out of mayoral race?
BY MARK KONKOL AND FRAN SPIELMAN Staff Reporters December 22, 2010 5:26PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Congressman Danny Davis, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and State Sen. James Meeks met privately Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to unite behind a consensus black candidate for mayor.
One day before today’s deadline to drop out of the race, the three top African-Americans in the race tried once again to find the unity that has so far eluded them.
The candidates discussed current election poll results and “factors that will contribute most significantly to victory for whoever is running and their chances of being successful,” Davis told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Braun confirmed she met with her opponents, but told reporters she “would not make news” on that topic.
If any of the three major black candidates drop out of the race, it’s most likely to be Meeks. And a source familiar with Wednesday’s discussion said that could happen soon.
Meeks has been under fire since last week when he suggested that only African Americans should be eligible for city contracts set aside for minorities and women. He later backtracked.
But Wednesday afternoon, Meeks’ campaign spokesman Bryan Zises, while confirming the meeting took place, said Meeks was “very clearly not dropping out’’ despite the uproar about his remarks about minority set-asides.
“He’s gotten nothing but encouragement from people, particularly in the African-American community, for speaking out about the minority- and women-owned business program,’’ Zises said.
But Davis said “there is a seriously good chance that all the individuals that are currently now candidates will not necessarily be candidates when the deal goes down. “Maybe ‘deal’ is a bad word to use, but when the ultimate decision is made by the community.”
In a separate interview, Davis said he has not been involved in talks about any specific candidate dropping out of the running and he does not plan to bow out at this time.
“You never say never to anything at all,” Davis said. “But I do know I’m optimistic there is a unified approach to the campaign and we are going to be able to experience victory.”
Davis, who has the top spot on the ballot and received the endorsement of 15 African-American aldermen on Wednesday, said recent “credible polls” show him in second place — behind lead candidate Rahm Emanuel.
“It would be ludicrous for me to talk about any kind of thing other than trying to win the election,” he said.
Moseley Braun’s spokeswoman Renee Ferguson said the meeting was “constructive not destructive.” Ferguson disputed Davis’ claim that “credible polls” have him second.
“I don’t know if anyone will take their name off the ballot. . . . But they all need to take a look at what’s real here. And what’s real is that [Braun] has the polling numbers, she has the organization and the ability to raise money. And she’s doing it,” Ferguson said. “All that is what matters.”
After Meeks made his remarks last week, he backtracked twice. At first, he suggested that he would only exclude white women if elected mayor.
Then, he tried to change the subject entirely to focus on the “systemic corruption” that has allowed white-owned “fronts” posing as minorities and women to defraud the program and make African-Americans the “most under-represented among city contractors.”
“As mayor [Meeks] would put an end to the corruption and lack of accountability that has been allowed to go unchecked,” according to a statement issued by the Meeks campaign.
Meeks, Davis and Braun were involved in weeks of meetings earlier this year in a failed attempt to agree on a consensus black candidate before the filing deadline.