Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Mexican “political” revolution for Chicago? Or four more years of Rahm?

There are those people who want to view the storyline of this municipal election cycle as being something historic – the Latino population is going to assert itself on behalf of Jesus Garcia so as to make him the first Chicago mayor of Latin American ethnic origins.

As if the Latino vote that accounts for just over a quarter of the city’s population but about 17 percent of the registered voters in Chicago is going to turn out in such strength as to overcome the man who can count Barack Obama as a personal colleague.

I’M IN A position where I personally would be intrigued by a serious campaign for political office run by a Latino – and not just because Chicago needs to have someone other than Luis Gutierrez be the primary Latino political face to come from the city.

Although I have to admit to being skeptical enough that I have already braced myself for the likelihood that Mayor Rahm Emanuel will manage to get himself re-elected to the dreaded “four more years.”

Political apathy amongst the masses, rather than a Latino voter turnout of historic nature, is what we’re likely to see come the April 7 run-off elections.

For his part, Garcia has tried to make some connections to Latino officials elsewhere in the United States – both for moral support and for fund-raising help. He’s going to get his clock cleaned financially by Rahm’s millions, but still wants to appear competitive.

A LACKLUSTER CAMPAIGN by Chuy would be more harmful to Latino political empowerment than anything else.

Earlier this week, the Latino Victory Fund tried its part to elevate Garcia’s status, endorsing his mayoral campaign along with that of a Puerto Rican official seeking to become mayor of Philadelphia and an aldermanic candidate from Seattle.

The group pointed out that Garcia, who already has the designation of being the first Mexican-American ever elected to the Illinois Senate, has been running a “trailblazing candidacy” that “has energized the Latino community.”

Yet there’s the poll done by the Miami-based Latino Decisions organization that contends 65 percent of all Latinos surveyed in Chicago had not been contacted by any campaign to check to see if they were going to vote, or if they were even registered.

CONSIDERING THAT GARCIA needs an overwhelming, almost Harold Washington-like voter turnout amongst Latinos if he’s to have a chance of success, that doesn’t say much for a campaign organization that can turn out the vote he needs on Election Day.

Which makes me wonder how solid that 61 percent of Latino voter support for Garcia (compared to 18 percent of Latinos for Emanuel) truly is. Considering that just about all of the Latino political officials in Chicago are publicly backing Rahm, I wonder if the 18 percent will turn out to vote for sure, while the 61 percent will show up if they can’t find something better to do on Election Day.

We can talk about spirit and spunk all we want, but it is a good voter ground game that wins elections. Who bothers to vote?

Earlier I mentioned the idea of a “Harold Washington-like” turnout, referring to the overwhelming dominance that the former mayor got from African-American voters. As in the fact that in the wards with predominantly black populations, Harold took in excess of 90 percent of the vote.

I’M NOT SURE Latinos quierre Chuy the same way that Harold was beloved by black voters way back when. Even if I suspect that Harold himself, if he were alive, would vote for Garcia.

It is a rare political phenomenon – the closest I have ever seen to it was back in the ’98 Democratic gubernatorial primary when ultimate nominee Glenn Poshard dominated the Southern Illinois counties by taking as much as 98 percent of the vote in some places; making up for the fact that Chicago voters wanted any one of the other three candidates to win.

Unless Garcia can create something similar, he’s likely to fall short. The fact that the Mariachi Aguilas de Oxnard (who also did the Viva Obama mariachi song back in 2008) has put together a corrido entitled Don Chuy de La Villita is cute.

But all it does is ensure that Garcia will be able to reminisce about an unsuccessful mayoral campaign while watching a YouTube video in coming years.


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