Chicago politics create national waves, and Richard Daley's primary win there likely will embolden Democratic moderates elsewhere to criticize Jesse Jackson, whom they long have treated with kid gloves.
Daley's convincing victory - but one clearly along racial lines - also gives new Democratic National Chairman Ron Brown a chance to prove that he's his own man despite his close ties to Jackson.All this stems from racially polarized Chicago, where Daley - son of the boss who ruled Chicago for 21 years before his death in 1976 - unseated Mayor Eugene Sawyer, a black.
Daley won, 55 to 43 percent, in the vote Tuesday. Daley got nine out of 10 white votes, Sawyer nine out of 10 black votes.
Under ordinary circumstances, Daley would be assured of winning on April 4. But black Alderman Timothy Evans bypassed the Democratic primary to avoid splitting the black vote with Sawyer. Evans is running in April under the banner of the "Harold Washington Party," named after Chicago's first black mayor, who died in office last year and whom Sawyer succeeded.
Jackson, who backed Sawyer in the primary, says he'll support Evans against Daley in April. Also running, as a Republican, will be former Democrat Eddie Vrdolyak, who could take white votes from Daley.
So Jackson, the former and likely future Democratic presidential aspirant, finds himself in the touchy position of opposing a party-endorsed candidate. Jackson has said Daley never voted for him, and he sees no reason to back Daley.
But Brown, who became the party's first black national chairman, reaffirmed Wednesday he would split with Jackson, for whom he once worked, and support Daley. Jackson has become a powerful figure in Democratic politics, and party officials and leaders have shied away from confronting him when they disagreed for fear of being called racist.
John Sasso, who ran Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign in 1988, said recently it was a "mistake" for Dukakis to "stay silent" about his differences with Jackson so as not to offend blacks. Sasso did not say why, but the obvious implication was that doing so sent the message to more moderate, mostly white voters that Dukakis was unwilling to stand up to Jackson.
"If he supports a candidate running against the Democratic primary winner who is endorsed by the party, clearly people are going to see that as wrong," said Jim Ruvolo, the national vice chairman. "I think it is a serious thing not to support the nominee of the party unless that nominee has done something reprehensible." He said Daley had campaigned responsibly.
"I think it does make it easier," for Democrats to speak out against Jackson, said Iowa Democratic Chair Bonnie Campbell. "It's a point of vulnerability" for Jackson, she said. "Everyone should be treated the same and that doesn't always happen. He (Jackson) has been the exception to that."