CHICAGO
10/29/2010 12:20 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Chicago Mayor Race: James Meeks Isn't 'Consensus Candidate,' But Still Running

A group of African-American leaders has been working for months to choose a "consensus candidate" for the upcoming mayor's race.

One candidate appears happy to run outside that consensus.

The Chicago Coalition for Mayor has narrowed its list down to two possible candidates to back: former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun and Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Larry Rogers. One name conspicuously absent from that short list: State Senator James Meeks.

"After weeks of deliberations, discussions and interviews with potential candidates, it finally came down to a heated and passionate debate that was held Wednesday, October 27," the Coalition wrote in a press release. "The room was filled with emotion. The discussion lasted several hours.

"Finally, the Chicago Coalition for Mayor, by a majority vote, accepted the Selection Committee's recommendation of Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun and Commissioner Larry Rogers as the final two 2011 consensus candidates for mayor of the City of Chicago."

But Meeks seems undeterred by the Coalition's snub.

"I want to be the mayor for all the city, not just for a segment of the city," Meeks told Tribune columnist John Kass shortly before the decision. "So I don't think I'll be their consensus black choice. That's OK with me."

As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Meeks continues taking steps toward launching a campaign, with or without the Coalition's backing:

On Thursday, he announced his new communications team, led by Zises, who worked on state Rep. Art Turner's unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor.

Also joining the campaign are media consultant Brian Boyer, who worked for Mayor Harold Washington, and press secretary Tasha Harris, who is stepping down as communications director at Meeks' Salem Baptist Church.

It's speculated that the Coalition passed over Meeks because of his recent comments about his position as the leader of Salem Baptist Church. Meeks said that he wouldn't stop preaching at the church if elected mayor; some leaders were reportedly anxious about a separation of church and state in a Meeks administration. His conservative positions on gay rights and abortion also cost him support.

Without Meeks, that leaves the group with two candidates to choose from. Rogers sits on the Board of Review, which evaluates property values for tax purposes in Cook County. It's a post that is also held by Joe Berrios, who has been tarred for accepting campaign contributions from lawyers who come before the Board; Rogers would also face careful scrutiny on this point.

The other candidate, and the one whom insiders suggest is the Coalition's front-runner, is Moseley Braun. Her last serious campaign was a 1998 Senate loss to Peter Fitzgerald, and she carries some baggage from her single Senate term as well. More recently, she's served as the ambassador to New Zealand, made a very brief run at the U.S. presidency, and worked at an organic foods company.

One of those two will receive the financial and political backing of a powerful coalition of elected officials, religious leaders and other major figures in the African-American community. But they may also be splitting votes with a resilient, resentful and feisty James Meeks.