CHICAGO – Dr. Eric Wallace is the only black Republican on the Illinois ballot this November running for the Illinois Senate in Chicago’s southern-most suburbs, a district that not only takes in part of Cook County, but sections of Kankakee, Will and Grundy counties.
But one of his most passionate and faithful volunteers outside of Wallace’s wife Jennifer and his cousin Tory is Devin Jones – Chicago’s 18th Ward Republican Committeeman and area rep for Mark Curran for US Senate. He drives miles every week to help Wallace win in November.
The 34-year-old, who does research for a private equity firm and teaches Catholic Bible studies on the side says he has two reasons why he’s going out of his way to help Dr. Wallace.
“One, nobody from the party has reached out to help him and I try to help as many as I can – especially the struggling Republicans,” Jones told Illinois Review.
“Two, these local races are also where we need black Republicans to represent black districts. The fact that he and his wife have sacrificed their lives to work this campaign – I don’t have another choice but to drive out there and help him as much as I possibly can.”
The lack of response from the IL GOP is in contrast to how the Republican Party at the national level is focusing a considerable amount of assets to pull in the black community’s interest for President Trump’s re-election.
The opportunity to reach out to the black community on the issue of public safety is another avenue the Republicans aren’t taking advantage of, Jones said.
“I’ve heard one or two black people talk about defunding the police, but in Chicago we run under a corrupt form of government,” he said. “Naturally, there would be some corruption at the Chicago Police Department. In 2017, the Department of Justice came out with a report saying there were Fourth Amendment rights violations as well as other problems. The average blacks in Chicago wants those things corrected.”
There are things that could be done to change the police department, but defunding the police? “No, no one is saying that. That’s a media-driven narrative,” he said.
That applies to Jones’ 18th Ward as well as Eric Wallace’s 40th suburban Senate district.
“People are very receptive to his candidacy as I walk around,” Jones said. “We’re finding that people will talk about his candidacy and want to register to vote. And when they register – they will remember who signed them up to vote. They realize a neighbor is running for office.”
Jones said Wallace is working hard to get his message out door-to-door because he hasn’t been able to get the funding needed for ads and expensive mailings.
“I’ll volunteer for almost any conservative candidate the first time, but if I see if they’re not working as hard for themselves as I’m willing to work, I won’t help them a second time. The fact is I drive out there to volunteer, because Dr. Wallace is working hard.”
Jones says he agrees with Dr. Wallace on the RISE principles he talks about: Responsible government, Individual liberty and fidelity, Strong family values and Economic empowerment.
“I based my life on those principles,” Jones said. “I’m definitely on board with his platform.”
What Dr. Wallace needs to oust Democrat incumbent Sen. Patrick Joyce needs is volunteers and every campaign needs money, he said. County and state offices can be won with lots of smaller donations because the money will be used wisely.
“I shouldn’t have to drive out from Chicago to help him,” Jones said. “There are county and local Republicans in the area that should be volunteering there. What are the people in that district that were elected to represent Republicans doing for him?”
Jones is frustrated because he doesn’t get responses from the IL GOP when he reaches out – and neither does Dr. Wallace.
Maybe there’s just not enough energy in the IL GOP for candidates like Wallace in a tough year were Democrats have the megaphone and money to spend promoting their views?
“I would say there’s enough energy for the Republican Party to do what they want to do,” Jones said. “They just seem to ignore those they don’t see as being relevant for whatever reason.”
Ed. Note: Two other black Republicans will be on the November ballot – Max Solomon for the 38th Illinois House District and Philanese White in Illinois' 1st Congressional District.