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Corey Brooks considering entering crowded 2nd Congressional race

Pastor Corey Brooks leads his church marching across Chicago as part Pastor Brook's Walk Across Americend violence July 15 2012.

Pastor Corey Brooks leads his church in marching across Chicago as part of Pastor Brook's Walk Across America to end violence on July 15, 2012. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: December 28, 2012 6:23AM



From early indications, the special election in the 2nd Congressional District is going to be a bloodbath for Democrats.

Gov. Pat Quinn has set Feb. 26 as the primary election. Besides the likely suspects — aldermen, state reps and senators, lawyers, and former elected officials who are itching to get back into the game — we can expect to see just about anyone on the South Side with a Facebook account jump into the race.

“Every Negro thinks that they should be a congressman,” noted a former elected official who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity. “There is no process. No group of elders who can give anybody direction. That is so sad.”

Some of the people whom Jesse Jackson Jr. helped win office are among the first to drop their names as his replacement.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) and former state Rep. David Miller were part of the dream team Jackson was able to put together over the last 17 years.

But the ongoing violence in predominantly black neighborhoods, including the second district, has prompted a political outsider to consider running for the seat as well.

Known affectionately as the “Rooftop Pastor,” Corey Brooks, pastor of New Beginnings Church on the South Side, said he is seriously contemplating a run.

“I haven’t made a decision [about running],” he said during a phone interview Monday afternoon.

Historically, when politicians run in districts that include a wide swath of middle-class neighborhoods, they run on a platform that promises to crack down on criminals and tougher punishments.

But Brooks doesn’t appear to have that mindset.

“We face four basic ills in the inner city — economic, educational, social and spiritual,” he said. “Anything that we can do to help curb those issues will hopefully curb the violence as well.”

Last winter, Brooks went up on the roof of a dilapidated motel across the street from his church and vowed to stay there until he raised $450,000 to purchase the property. He surpassed his goal when he received a $100,000 from movie mogul Tyler Perry.

He then embarked on a cross-country walk to raise $15 million to build a community center.

After 130 days on the road, Brooks raised $500,000 for his project.

On Monday, Brooks was officiating the funeral of James Holman 32, who was shot to death on Nov. 19, when gunshots exploded outside of St. Columbanus Catholic Church across the street from A.A. Rayner & Sons Funeral Home in the 300 block of East 71st Street.

“This whole thing right here has thrown me for a loop,” he said. “I need to dig deep within myself and make a decision.”

His work these days isn’t so much inside the church as it is outside where people are regularly being shot and killed.

“Either I am going to help people as a congressman or help people the way I have been doing it,” Brooks said in a phone interview Monday afternoon.

Frankly, who in their right mind would want to lay claim to the cursed 2nd Congressional seat?

When the irascible Gus Savage held it, he was accused trying to force himself on a female Peace Corps worker. That led to an investigation by the House Ethics Committee that forced Savage to write a letter of apology.

Mel Reynolds spent more time in jail than he did representing the people in the second district after he was convicted of sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse for engaging in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old campaign worker.

He also was convicted of bank fraud and lying to SEC investigators.

Now, the people in the second district are dealing with Jesse Jackson Jr.’s fall from grace.

If Brooks does make a run for the vacated seat, and wins, he would have to decide whether or not to remain the senior pastor at his South Side church. My reaction to Brooks’ dilemma is that a man can’t serve two masters.

Brooks brings something to the table that no other potential candidate has — a snapshot of what’s really going on in the streets.

But if Brooks does run for office, he should put his personal crusade on hold.



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