Mayor Pete Buttigieg moseyed on down to the South Side of Chicago Tuesday night, in an attempt to shore up his virtually non-existent support among black voters.
The mayor demonstrated his eagerness to appeal to the local African American community…by charging a minimum of $25 a ticket for entry to the 1,000-capacity event in Bronzeville, an affluent black neighborhood. Some guests paid up to $1,000 for the chance to meet Mayor Pete at a private reception. Cockburn, who bumped into the mayor in a corridor at the Miami Hilton in June and can speak to the sheer exhilaration of his presence, wonders whether they feel they got their money’s worth. Couldn’t they have spent that cash investing in community projects, or on something worthwhile like booze?
The Chicago Tribune focused on how the 2020 contender had drawn an ‘overwhelmingly white audience he drew to the event in a historic black neighborhood.’ Acknowledging the white elephant in the room, Mayor Pete told the crowd:
‘Find the people who don’t look like most of you in this room and let them know they have the chance, not just to support this campaign, but to shape it.’
Cockburn likes to think that some attendees took the South Bend mayor up on his challenge. The prospect of bourgeois pale Buttigieg fans (do they have a name yet? The Butthive? Pete-o-philes?) pouring out across the South Side of Chicago in their sedans, a mass of Indiana license plates and ‘my child is on the honor roll at Naperville Central’ bumper stickers proselytizing to the local gangs, is too tantalizing to pass up.
Chicago’s South Side has produced several influential Democratic figures, like Rev. Jesse Jackson and Barack and Michelle Obama. If Mayor Pete was hoping to emulate those political heavyweights, he failed: it seems he only succeeded in contrasting himself with them.
Cordaro Johnson, one of the few black supporters in the room, told the Tribune: ‘I feel like all the black supporters are with Joe Biden. He is riding the wave of being Barack Obama’s vice president. So, he needs to find a way to reach those people, people like me, that he has actual real issues and real solutions to the problems that they’re facing.’
Will sensible moderate black Democrats ever trust a clean-cut, gay white mayor over the VP of America’s first African American president? That’s the question the Buttigieg campaign has to answer if it’s to stand a chance in the primaries. Judging by Chicago, things aren’t looking too pretty.