White Defends Pritzker After Ad Shows Gov. in 2008 Calling Him ‘Least-Offensive’ Black Senate Candidate

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A new ad released just days before the election features recordings of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker making controversial comments about Secretary of State Jesse White and former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones in a 2008 conversation with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Following the release of the advertisement, which can be found on YouTube and has hit airwaves in Illinois this week, White is offering his support of Pritzker’s candidacy, and blasting the ad as a “desperate political ad” in the waning days before the election.  

The conversation featured in the ad was recorded by the FBI on Nov. 14, 2018 between Pritzker and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The two men were discussing potential candidates to nominate to the U.S. Senate to replace Barack Obama, who had just been elected president of the United States.

In the conversation, Pritzker described former Senate President Emil Jones as “too crass” and said he believed White was a safe candidate.

“Of all the African Americans I can think that are sort of like qualified as least-offensive, it’s Jesse White,” Pritzker said in the tape, which was played within the advertisement. “Emil (Jones) is a little more crass.”

Chicago Ald. Anthony Beale is then quoted from a Feb. 2018 interview after the tapes, which were recorded as part of the FBI’s probe into Blagojevich’s actions in connection to the awarding of the Senate seat to former Sen. Roland Burris, were published by the Chicago Tribune.

“This is a slap in our face, taking our community for granted,” he said. “This is not the kind of leadership that we need at this time.”

The release of the tapes caused significant controversy ahead of the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2018. According to the Associated Press, Pritzker apologized directly to numerous political leaders, including White and Jones.

At the time, White said he accepted Pritzker’s apology, saying that he “knew where his heart is,” but Jones did not, unloading on Pritzker and saying that he should bow out of the race.

“What he is saying in comparing me to Jesse White is that Jesse White is a safe Black,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Jesse White is not gonna do what Emil Jones does. Dr. King was a crass Black. Harold Washington was a crass Black. It was said in a derogatory manner.”

Upon release of the advertisement this month, White issued a statement condemning the ad and expressing support for Pritzker.

“I have known JB Pritzker for more than 30 years and I consider him a very good friend. I also consider him the best governor that Illinois has had in my lifetime,” he said. “To manipulate a taped phone conversation and to use it as a political commercial, as it reflects the governor’s views, is highly offensive. I strongly encourage the people of Illinois to ignore this desperate political ad.”

Beale, also quoted in the advertisement, expressed support for Pritzker as well, calling the ad a “crass attempt” to suppress voter enthusiasm for the governor.

“Last night, I discovered that Dan Proft, on behalf of the Republican Party, has created a commercial that uses my image and words to disparage Gov. J.B. Pritzker,” he said in a statement provided to media outlets, including CapitolFax. “Darren Bailey, Dan Proft and their racist, fear-mongering propaganda machine have never once stood up for Black and brown families, and their attempts to use us as political pawns in the final days of the election is sickening.

“I demand that he take this ad off the air immediately, and will be pursuing all legal remedies available,” he added.

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November 3, 2022 at 03:25PM

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