An article yesterday described affirmative action goals for participation of women and minorities in Democratic national conventions as "quotas" and quoted Chairman Paul G. Kirk Jr. in that context. Kirk has said he fully supports the party's affirmative action goals, and is personally opposed to any quotas.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Paul G. Kirk Jr. rejected demands today by Edward R. Vrdolyak, Cook County's powerful party chairman, that delegate-selection quotas be eliminated for the 1988 national convention.
"That is not what the Democratic Party is all about," Kirk told reporters after meeting throughout the day with Illinois and Chicago-area Democratic leaders.
"I don't think we can turn our backs on our heritage. I think the goals we've set forth are correct ," he said.
Earlier today, Vrdolyak called the 15-year-old quotas "baloney." In a newspaper interview, he said the party is not "dealing with the real world" in requiring that half of the delegates to the national convention be women and that the number of blacks and Hispanics be reflective of state populations.
"Since we don't elect public officials on the basis of quotas, then we shouldn't have to have them in electing delegates," Vrdolyak told the Chicago Tribune.
He contended that the quotas, which date to changes triggered by the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention here, strengthen public notions that the party is hostage to special interests.
Vrdolyak leads the nonblack majority of 29 aldermen on the Chicago City Council who have been in political confrontation with Mayor Harold Washington since the mayor's election two years ago. Vrdolyak's denunciation of quotas is an extension of that battle.
Kirk, who met with Washington and Vrdolyak in separate closed-door sessions today, sought to minimize the effects of the City Hall struggle.
Kirk said Illinois Democrat Paul Simon's victory last November over three-term Republican incumbent Sen. Charles H. Percy proved that divisions between the two camps of local Democrats could be bridged when larger issues are at stake.
He said Vrdolyak and Washington "agreed with what I set out to them , and both pledged their support to me. There are goals within our party, and [we can] unite on the objectives." Kirk added that "one of the great strengths of our party is diversity."