Democratic National Committee Chairman Ron Brown campaigned for mayoral candidate Richard M. Daley on Monday, keeping one step ahead of threatened demonstrations by black activists.
He ate and ran, so to speak, leaving the city shortly after a breakfast meeting of black business leaders and a morning press conference at which he said Daley, who is white, is the best candidate to fill the remainder of the late Harold Washington’s term in office.
“I am convinced he (Daley) can provide the leadership that this city needs,” Brown said. “I want to do anything I can to help in any way I can.”
In endorsing Daley, Brown, the first black to head a major political party, is going head to head with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and much of Chicago’s black political Establishment. They are solidly in the corner of Alderman Timothy C. Evans, a black Democrat who is running as an independent in the April 4 general election.
Washington was the first black mayor of this racially divided city. In addition to Daley and Evans, Republican Edward R. Vrdolyak, a white, is vying to complete Washington’s term.
Daley and Brown were warmly received by the black business leaders, who seemed to welcome Daley’s promise to improve education and protect minority set-aside programs.
Earlier this month, however, Rep. Gus Savage (D-Ill.), an Evans supporter, denounced Brown’s support of Daley, saying: “When Ron Brown brings his Oreo you-know-what into Chicago, I’ll guarantee I’m going to help organize a reception party for him at the airport and to follow him all the way to some white hotel to denounce his coming in.”
The feared protest did not materialize. The location of Brown’s appearance was rescheduled twice--first because John Johnson, the publisher of Ebony magazine, bowed out as host under pressure from black Evans supporters, and the second time because of the fear of black demonstrations.
The final site was kept secret until Monday morning.
‘No Fear About Coming’
Brown downplayed the opposition to his visit. “I’m not here in the city of Chicago to pick a fight with Rev. Jackson or any other Democrat,” he told reporters. “I had no fear about coming into Chicago.”
Brown said he recently had talked with Jackson, Evans and two of Chicago’s three black congressmen to explain his endorsement of Daley. “They’re clear on where I stand,” he said. “I think they are clear on my rationale for it. I did not seek their approval. I informed them of my decision.”
He said he had not talked with Savage, whose remarks he called “somewhat intemperate,” but added: “I have forgiven him.”
Brown would not speculate on what effect Jackson’s decision to not support the Democratic nominee would have on any future presidential race.
“Obviously, as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, I would hope all Democrats would support the nominee of the party,” he said. “Some have chosen to. Some have chosen not to.”
Reason for Action
Jackson has said he is not supporting Daley because Daley did not support his presidential bid and twice failed to support Washington when he was the Democratic mayoral nominee.
Evans said the Democratic chairman was pressured into making the endorsement of Daley. “This is more of a test of his commitment to the Democratic Party than it is a sincere endorsement of Daley,” he said.
Calling the trip “the quickest trip a national party chairman has ever taken,” Evans said: “He waved hello and waved goodby in a matter of a few hours. It doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement of Rich Daley to me.”