Saturday, March 14, 2015

Are Chuy’s black vote bloc supporters enough to overcome Emanuel lead?

The campaign of challenger Jesus Garcia is giving big play to the endorsements it received from the Rev. Jesse Jackson and former mayoral dreamer Willie Wilson – who tried running a campaign that was supposed to take advantage of African-American discontent with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

But what should we think of the mayoral run-off election just a little over three weeks away?

THERE ARE THOSE people whose political leanings these days are Anybody But Rahm who want to believe that we’re going to see an overwhelming black voter support combine with the Latino voter support that Garcia already seems to have from last month’s municipal elections.

The result would be a dumping of Rahm that would be politically humiliating and completely ruin any shot he has as a lasting political career.

Then again, every time Emanuel appears on a ballot there is always a segment of the electorate that takes the idea of defeating him to be a personal crusade – and they never seem to prevail in the end.

Which is why I’m not surprised by the Chicago Tribune-published polls on Friday that showed Emanuel developing a significant lead over Garcia – some 51 percent to 37 percent.

THAT DIFFERS FROM past polls that showed Emanuel with only a slight lead over Garcia and nearly 20 percent of the potential electorate undecided. Could it be that all those nice, soft, warm-and-fuzzy television campaign spots that have aired in recent weeks have caused some people to lighten up on their political hostility?

Could it be that Emanuel winds up prevailing on April 7 because there won’t be some sudden burst of outrage – and that apathy might wind up being the lasting sentiment that comes out of this election cycle?

It’s why I thought that the roughly 66 percent of registered voters who couldn’t be bothered to cast ballots back in February was the most significant statistic – and one that might be matched come three weeks from Tuesday.

As for the recent Garcia endorsements, I’m really unimpressed with the Wilson activity – which might have been game-changing if he had come out hard and strong for Chuy in the days following the Feb. 24 elections.

BUT THE WHOLE process of “Who will Willie want?” dragged out to the point where I’m sure it played out as indifference on his part. Combined with the fact that Wilson said he listened to Emanuel pitches for an endorsement, I’m sure some think that Wilson was more about puffing up his own ego.

It will be interesting to see if he’s even the least bit relevant politically in future years – or if his few weeks of campaigning earlier this year were the extent to which he was a political persona.

I also find various newspaper reports concerning the City Council’s views on the mayoral race to be intriguing. As in black aldermen saying publicly they back Emanuel (on the grounds that they want the incumbent to remain so things don’t get shaken up for them), but aren’t really all that enthusiastic about him.

While when it comes to Latino aldermen, it seems the bulk of elected officials with Latin American ethnic origins are more solidly for Emanuel – they really want to be a part of the political establishment, and don’t want to risk the notion that Garcia’s vision of a future Chicago would not include them.

IT DOESN’T EXACTLY reek of a mood demanding change in our political structure. It makes me skeptical that there’s any racial or ethnic revolution in store for us next month.

While I don’t doubt the sincerity of those people who are bad-mouthing Rahm Emanuel the loudest these days, I just wonder if there’s enough of them to seriously impose any sort of change.

And if all the people who held off getting too excited about the gubernatorial election cycle last year because they wanted to focus their public attention on this year’s mayoral cycle will wind up feeling a bit foolish.

Because I’m sure a Bruce Rauner/Rahm Emanuel pairing as the two top public officials on our local political scene ultimately will be their worst nightmare come true!


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