Barnes’ Senate bid may ride on Milwaukee’s Black turnout
March 03, 2013|By Michael Paulson, Chicago Tribune reporter
D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s decision to hold a primary challenge to Sen. Mark Kirk, who faces a primary challenge from former GOP Rep. Connie Mack and other Democrats in 2014, has triggered a flurry of speculation about how likely it is the mayor will decide whether to enter the race.
The most likely outcome, according to two people close to the mayor, is an attempt to win the primary outright. Gray has been mulling a run for months before announcing in early December that he is now running for re-election, and it was within the realm of possibility the mayor could have been planning to run for office in 2014.
The most significant impact of Gray’s announcement was that it has prompted a number of Democrats who have considered running against Kirk, particularly former Chicago state Sen. Michael J. Moore, to instead put their efforts into a primary challenge to Kirk. The decision by Moore has been complicated by the fact that he’s an African-American — he has been considered a strong potential challenger to Kirk.
A more important factor, however, may be the potential impact of the mayor’s decision on Democratic turnout in February, according to people who know the mayor and who say he has been thinking about how he can improve the political party’s midterm prospects.
“In terms of the mayor’s race, I’m optimistic that it does send a signal that the D ward that has never been more receptive to Democrats is primed to turn out in a big way, and that will help us in the general election in 2014,” said Brian Kennedy, a Chicago-based Democratic consultant. “It’s all a function of turnout.”
Mayor Emanuel, for his part, has acknowledged that the city’s demographics are changing, and he has been seeking to make the party more relevant in the city by adding more black and Hispanic candidates to the roster. In early December, the mayor announced a proposal to add a third African-American candidate to the Chicago runoff against Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
D.C. Circuit Court Judge David Laro has said he would appoint the top Democrat on the council, and the mayor has said he would appoint a black