“Disappointing.” “Hurtful.” “Insulting.”
These are just some of the words mayoral candidate Dorothy Brown, clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, used to describe the comments made by Rev. James Meeks recently regarding her bid for mayor.
“The remarks made by Rev. Meeks disrespect me as a woman, disrespect me as a human being and disrespect me as an African-American,” said Brown, during a press conference at her campaign headquarters, 2335 S. Michigan, with Chicago media last Friday. “I have worked hard to achieve the American dream and his comments are an insult to everything I have accomplished.”
“I am not a loser,” Brown added, close to tears during her response. “I am a winner and I am in this race to win it. I want the chance to lead Chicago in the 21st century.”
The supposed “loser” comment was made the previous day by Meeks, pastor of Salem Baptist Church on the South Side, and an Illinois state senator, during a press conference with Mayor Richard Daley.
During the press conference, where Meeks announced plans to work with Daley on a new education reform plan, a reporter asked him if he planned to endorse Clerk Brown for mayor.
Rev. Meeks answered flatly, “I probably won’t endorse anyone that is probably going to lose.”
Once a vocal critic of Daley, even briefly throwing his own hat in the ring to challenge him for mayor in 2003, Meeks has appeared to reach common ground with the four-term mayor.
During her speech last Friday, Brown noted that women make up 80 percent of Meeks’ congregation, adding that a woman of her stature and experience deserves more respect than the apparent “sexist” dismissal by Meeks.
Meeks this week responded angrily to Brown’s accusation.
“I didn’t call her a loser. I said I’m not going to support anybody who’s going to lose. What does that do for my credibility if I go out and support somebody who doesn’t have a chance of winning?” he said.
“Every race Clerk Brown has ever been in I have supported her,” Meeks added. “Just because she doesn’t have a possible chance of winning this particular election doesn’t mean my comments are sexist. It’s reality. She doesn’t have the infrastructure, the capacity or ability to win the fifth floor of the mayor’s office.”
Nevertheless, Brown did state her intention to visit Meeks’ church in the coming weeks to campaign.
As of Wednesday, Rev. Meeks has not made his mayoral endorsement official. Other announced candidates for mayor are Bill “Dock” Walls, a former Harold Washington aide, and community activist Syron Smith.