As evidenced by the fact that Gery Chico, currently head of the Illinois State Board of Education who ran for mayor against Emanuel back in 2011, says he is supporting Rahm come the Feb. 24 elections.
BOTH THE CHICAGO Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune reported this weekend that Chico, who is of both Mexican and Lithuanian ethnic origins, plans to publicly back Emanuel for mayor.
It is part of the effort by Emanuel to try to ensure that Garcia doesn’t completely dominate the votes of Latinos – who account for about 30 percent of the city’s population.
If anything, it means that Emanuel wants to repeat his level of Latino support that he achieved in the 2011 election cycle that he managed to win without the need for a run-off election.
Amongst Latinos in 2011, Chico won the vote with about 40 percent, and another 20 percent preferring the mayoral aspirations of then-city Clerk Miguel del Valle. Emanuel took about 30 percent of the Latino vote, with the three remaining candidates (all African-American) splitting the remaining vote of under 10 percent.
THIS TIME AROUND, there aren’t two mayoral candidates counting on Latino votes (del Valle is of Puerto Rican origins) to bolster their overall totals.
So perhaps Garcia manages to get about two-thirds of the Latino vote. So long as Emanuel gets the other third, he’s likely to think he has “enough” of the Latino vote to combine for an overall total large enough to win.
Which could mean that if he keeps the same Latinos who voted for him in ’11, he doesn’t have to do reach out to anybody new!
The key to comprehending Latino political empowerment in Chicago is to keep one thing in mind – there are those who think that Latinos benefit in the long run by taking on the political establishment and replacing its members with “one of our own,” while there are others who merely want to be a part of the establishment.
ALDERMANIC AND LEGISLATIVE elections often turn into political fights between people of those two groups. Emanuel is likely to want Latinos who are willing to keep the basic structure in place in exchange for a piece of the overall political pie.
Having someone like Chico, who once was president of the Chicago Board of Education and who is a prominent attorney whose firm does business with city government, is likely to appeal to those individuals.
As is the fact that even Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., is willing to publicly back Emanuel’s re-election bid. The mayor may well have two of the most prominent Spanish names on the local political scene backing him.
It’s not likely that those two would be sticking their necks out publicly if they didn’t think there was a chance that Emanuel could overcome the hostility he faces in some quarters of the city and get himself re-elected.
THAT COULD BE the key to comprehending the mayoral election we’re going to have in Chicago.
There are those who are greatly offended that Emanuel was willing to close down so many schools in the Chicago Public Schools system contained in non-white neighborhoods of the city. There are those who have their grudges who will be very outspoken in coming months about how much they detest Emanuel.
But there are others who will want to think that those people are just interested in shouting and screaming about something, anything! They’re going to be more than willing to maintain the status quo.
And if it winds up prevailing into a new term come May, the Latino political powers could be the people who are now willing to put themselves out there on Rahm’s behalf now.