Friday, February 11, 2011

Is it over?

EMANUEL: Mayor Daley 2 1/2?
We have 11 more days until we’ll know the answer to that question, with regards to the mayoral elections for Chicago.

Nobody is disputing that Rahm Emanuel is going to get significantly more votes on Feb. 22 than any other individual mayoral candidate. The only real question is whether he will get more votes than all of them put together – which would result in a majority that would negate the need for a run-off election.

CONSIDERING THE CAMPAIGN strategies of all the other candidates for mayor has been to finish in second place so they could then go head-to-head against Emanuel in an April 5 run-off, the election to be held a week from Tuesday could well turn out to be a swift kick in the pants for Gery Chico, Carol Moseley-Braun, Miguel del Valle and Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins.

As for William “Dock” Walls, he has run so many token campaigns for so many different political posts that I can’t help but think the “swift kick” in the pants is completely expected on his part.

Some observers were getting all worked up over a recent poll commissioned by WLS-TV. The good people at “Eyewitness News” told us earlier this week that Emanuel already has 54 percent, while the newest Chicago Tribune poll puts him at 49 percent with upward momentum. He’s kicking butt, even if this were a two-way race.

In a six-way fight for political supremacy, this election has become a sick joke.

OF COURSE, THE observers also were getting their giggles from the showing of Moseley-Braun, who had all of 6 percent support to show for herself.

Six percent?!??!?

That was even worse than del Valle’s 8 percent, putting her in fourth place (although I’m sure the most hard-core Moseley-Braun partisans will argue that 6 percent and 8 percent are close enough that they fall within a statistical tie. All of that “margin of error” funny business.

Which could very well mean that the whole idea of an African-American backlash to the idea of a run-off between Emanuel and Chico (with no African-American candidate) may not pan out.

VARIOUS POLLS INDICATE Emanuel is taking significant portions of the African-American vote, which could very well mean that many black people don’t want to be left out in the cold should it occur that Rahm is the one who winds up taking the oath of office to be Chicago mayor come early May.

Which may also be another reason to ask, “Is it over?”

Are we at the point where enough people have accepted the concept of “Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel” (even if, deep down, the thought makes them want to wretch) that they may well cast their ballots like good little political sheep?

CLAYPOOL: Returning the favor?
Because the words of wisdom of one-time alderman Paddy Bauler (Chicago ain’t ready for reform) may well still be true today.

I WRITE THAT after learning (from the website of the Capitol Fax newsletter out of Springfield) that Forrest Claypool is now supporting Emanuel, which shouldn't be a shock because Emanuel offered up vague support for Claypool's bid last year for Cook County assessor.

Claypool, the guy who was supposedly the darling of the “goo goo” (as in good government) set whose independent campaign for was to give us a noble alternative to the political “hack” campaign of Joe Berrios, is winding up backing the guy who is preferred by the city’s business establishment to be the new mayor.

Now one can argue that the very fact that Claypool can support Emanuel is probably the ultimate bit of evidence that Forrest is really an establishment political person, and not some wild-eyed idealist who would have done much good for us. There probably wouldn’t have been significant differences in daily operation had Claypool won last year, compared to Berrios – who actually won.

But I’d also argue the fact that Claypool is feeling the need to let people know he’s an Emanuel-backer is evidence that Rahm’s mayorality is becoming something that can no longer be resisted. Few people want to be left out of the picture should he assume control of city government.

EVEN THE NEWSPAPER editorial boards that are more than willing to preach for causes they know the powers-that-be will do nothing about are feeling the need to endorse Emanuel – who got both of the major metro newspapers, along with several smaller ones (I don’t know of any publication that has endorsed anybody but Rahm).

So as much as I would have liked this campaign cycle to be a feisty spectacle that would give the people a chance to decide what their vision of the city’s future should be, it seems more like a coronation for the man who will, more or less, keep things going with the status quo. Daley 2 ½ -- just waiting for the day when a legitimate blood relative member of the Daley clan runs for office to give us Daley 3.

Aside from that, this election cycle may be memorable for only one other thing – Moseley-Braun’s attempt to become the new version of Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor.

WASHINGTON: Will Moseley-Braun match him?
I’d argue she succeeded, only in a way she never would have desired.

INSTEAD OF BECOMING the Harold Washington of 1983, who combined a dominant African-American vote with enough of the Latino and “lakefront liberal” voter blocs to win a three-way Democratic primary, she has become the Harold Washington of 1977.

Then-state Sen. Washington of the Hyde Park neighborhood ran in the special election to pick Richard J. Daley’s successor, and got his political butt whupped by the Machine's preferred pick, Michael Bilandic.


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