The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., who stunned America when he became the first viable Black candidate for president in 1984 and 1988, says he has been ‘highly impressed’ with the initial Democratic field of candidates. But Jackson says he believes the last-minute candidacies of former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg are unfair.
“I think [Patrick] and Bloomberg coming in at the halfway point, running for the finish line, seems to be unfair. I worked through the rains of the wintertime, through the spring, running to the end,” he recalls.
Despite his disagreement with Patrick’s entry, he said of the former governor, “He is very talented, very able, I like him very much; I respect him very much.”
Patrick has said he had planned to enter the race from the beginning, but his wife was being treated for uterine cancer. Now that she is cancer-free, he said he saw the opportunity to move ahead as planned to fill what he believes to be “voids” in the messages. Bloomberg, a billionaire, who implies he is the one who can beat President Trump, has already bought at least $37 million in television ads in an attempt to catch up. Both Patrick and Bloomberg have entered the race with only three months before the first votes are cast in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, Feb. 3.
In his own 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns, Jackson won a combination of 16 state primaries and caucuses, including in the states of South Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia, and Alabama. The 3.2 million votes he won in ‘84 and the 6.9 million he received in ’88, gave him the reputation as the first viable African-American candidate for president. Jackson’s national political successes have been credited for paving the way for other Black candidates namely former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, America’s first elected Black governor, and President Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president.
Apparently because of his winning strategies, as of mid-November, Jackson had spoken to 10 of the 17 Democratic candidates still vying for the nomination. According to sources close to Jackson, he has advised the campaigns of former Vice President Biden; Sen. Kamala Harris; Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Sen. Bernie Sanders; Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Cory Booker; Sen. Amy Klobuchar; Sec. Julián Castro; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and businessman Tom Steyer. Jackson said he has not spoken to the Bloomberg; nor Patrick campaigns.
Others still bidding for the Democratic nomination are former tech executive Andrew Yang; lecturer and author Marianne Williamson, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet.
The only announced Republican candidates against Trump are former Massachusetts Gov. and former federal prosecutor William F. Weld; and radio talk show host and former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh.
Jackson says he has been focused more on voting rights and “economic exploitation schemes”, such as redlining, than on the campaigns.
However, he contemplated why the only two African Americans in the race, Sens. Harris and Booker, are trailing behind White candidates such as Biden, Warren and Sanders.
“The novelty of the Black or Female that are running has worn off,” he speculated. “When I ran in ‘84 and ‘88 it was an anomaly. When Barack ran in 2008 it was a novelty. Now it seems that some of that has worn off. But they should not give up,” he said.
He concluded, “People want to defeat trump at all costs. I think that’s what it is.”