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What Chicago's first black mayor means to Windy City and US politics

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A surge in the Chicago black vote bodes well for the Democratic Party in '84; meanwhile, Mayor-elect Washington promises to unite the city and end political patronage; and in Philadelphia, Democratic mayoral primary candidates try to keep the issue of race subdued.

Leaders of both national political parties are relieved that Chicago's bitter and divisive mayoral campaign lies behind them.

Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans were entirely happy with their candidates or with the potential ramifications for 1984. They definitely were disturbed by the racial polarization that surfaced in the city.

As it is, Democrat Rep. Harold Washington's narrow victory over Republican Bernard E. Epton, followed by appeals for community unity from all factions, yields these conclusions:

* The basic Democratic coalition of blacks, Hispanics, white liberals, and unions came together sufficiently to pull it out for Mr. Washington, the black candidate with a mixed legal record.

All these groups are working toward having a greater impact on voting in November 1984. The National Coalition on Black Voter Participation reports that black voter registration in the United States rose from 60 percent in 1980 to nearly 65 percent in 1982. The coalition has plans for campaigns in 55 cities besides Chicago for '84 and in 22 states crucial to Democrats' prospects. The victory by a black in the Chicago mayoralty - after black registration was remarkably boosted from 50 percent to 75 percent in two years - could spur black registration drives nationally. It weakens the argument that a black presidential candidate is needed to encourage further black registration, says Gracia Hillman, the coalition's executive director.


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