The theory driving the meeting at historic Quinn Chapel is that four African-American candidates in the race for Cook County Board president will divide the black vote, making it impossible for any of the candidates to win the race for an office that's been held by an African American for the last 16 years. Those assembled there say there should be only one black person on that ballot.
"The question is, who is the best qualified to represent us?" said Minister Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam.
Farrakhan keynoted the meeting. By the time the assembly ended, over 300 black clergy men and women agreed that three of the four African-American candidates must quit the race.
"Let's vote and the one that comes out on top, the rest get behind them," Farrakhan said.
As the ministers began their assembly, Todd Stroger held a town meeting in north suburban Park Ridge. Stroger said despite what some editorialists claim, he's done a good job in running county government.
"I think we've done a great job. I would not be surprised if they asked the other candidates to leave. The county is in great shape," Stroger said.
The other candidates include Congressman Danny Davis, Alderwoman Toni Preckwinkle, Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and Water Reclamation District President Terrence O'Brien. Brown attended today's meeting as an observer and said there is no way she'll leave the race no matter what the ministers decide.
"They should probably just unify behind me, a person that has won county wide three times, the only person in the race that has done that, a person that has reformed county government, brought $187 million of new dollars to the clerk's office without raising taxes," Brown said.
The ministers say they will reconvene the meeting October 12th to deliver an endorsement for their choice for county board president in that 2010 primary.
Near 4:30 p.m., Stroger was seen arriving at the meeting. There was some word earlier Tuesday that Stroger's camp thought they would get an endorsement from this group of ministers, but that did not happen, a setback in the near term for Stroger.