Acting Chicago mayor Eugene Sawyer loses in the primaries due to issues that include a lack of charisma and alienating many Blacks.
1989 (Feb 28)
Richard M. Daley, son of the legendary Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, defeated acting mayor Eugene Sawyer for the Democratic nomination for that city's executive office. Daley, who is White, captured 57 percent of the vote, compared to 43 percent for Sawyer, who is Black. The vote was marked by a sharp split along racial lines, but voter turnout in the Black wards of the city was lower than usual. As a result of the primary, the general election scheduled for April 11, 1989, was to be decided among three candidates: Republican Alderman Edward R. Vrdolyak, Black independent Timothy C. Evans, and Daley. The winner of that election would serve the final two years of the late Harold Washington's term in office. Washington, Chicago's first Black mayor, died of a heart attack in November 1987. His death led to the election of Sawyer as acting mayor by the Chicago City Council. Political analysts quoted by the Atlanta Constitution attributed Sawyer's defeat to: 1) a lack of charisma; 2) his alienating many Blacks because of his support for the position of acting mayor by many of the same White aldermen who had opposed Mayor Washington's policies; 3) the looming candidacy of Evans, who was endorsed by the "Harold Washington slate"; 4) an antiquated campaign based largely on grass roots support; and 5) the political experience of Daley, who had served eight years as a state senator before becoming chief prosecutor of Cook County, of which Chicago is the county seat.