Mudslingers: The Top 25 Negative Political Campaigns of All Time : Countdown from No. 25 To No. 1

By Kerwin C. Swint | Go to book overview

9
"BYE-BYE BLACKBIRD"

Harold Washington v. Bernard Epton, Mayor, Chicago, 1983

A number of American political campaigns, and several in this book, have featured overt appeals to racism. But none have been more coarse and openly hostile to racial tensions and sensitivities than the 1983 race for mayor of Chicago between Harold Washington, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Bernard Epton. This was a shockingly brutal campaign, even for the rough-and-tumble world of Chicago politics.

Although he was a longtime fixture in Illinois politics, Harold Washington was not the mayoral nominee that many Democrats wanted in 1983. He had won a bruising primary against Democrats Jane Byrne, the incumbent mayor, and Richard M. Daley, son of the late mayor Richard Daley and scion of the famous Daley political machine. In the Democratic primary, neither Byrne nor Daley wanted to attack Washington because they were trying to win votes in the black community. In the general election, however, Epton and his campaign forces felt no such hesitation.

As a candidate, Washington did have some significant vulnerabilities. In the 1970s he had not filed income taxes for four straight years. His debt to the 1RS lead to a short prison term. He had had his law license suspended for taking clients' money without performing services. It also came to light that he had not paid a series of electricity and water bills, also leading to legal action against him. Thus, his political opponents had considerable ammunition to throw at him, completely apart from race, creating an image problem that Washington would have to overcome.

-143-

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Mudslingers: The Top 25 Negative Political Campaigns of All Time : Countdown from No. 25 To No. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Prologue xiii
  • 25- From Vietnam to Iraq 1
  • 24- It''s a Jungle out There 11
  • 23- Senator Pothole versus "Putzhead" 23
  • 22- Electronic Mudslinging 31
  • 21- The Art of War 39
  • 20- Homo Sapiens, Thespians, and Extroverts 47
  • 19- Vote for the Crook—it''s Important 55
  • 18- Who''s the Boss? Richard Daley and the Chicago Political Machine 63
  • 17- Polluting the Garden State 71
  • 16- God Save the Republic, Please 79
  • 15- Rudy and the Jets 87
  • 14- A Jersey Street Fight 95
  • 13- In This Corner, Little Lord Fauntleroy 103
  • 12- Sex, Lies, and Videotape 113
  • 11- Claytie versus the Lady 123
  • 10- Richard Nixon versus the United States of America 133
  • 9- "Bye-Bye Blackbird" 143
  • 8- America, Meet Willie Horton 153
  • 7- Tricky Dick versus the Pink Lady 163
  • 6- Grantism and Mr. Greeley 173
  • 5- The First Campaign 183
  • 4- A House Divided 193
  • 3- Mud, Mugwumps, and Motherhood 203
  • 2- The Dirtiest Campaign in American History? 213
  • 1- George Wallace and the "Negro Bloc Vote" 223
  • Epilogue 233
  • Notes 237
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 251
  • About the Author 255
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