Monday, March 30, 2015

Kentucky vs. Rahm – whose “victory” was likely more predictable?

Which storyline is more likely to be remembered for time to come – the near victory of Notre Dame over Kentucky in the NCAA men’s basketball tourney or the possibility that next week, mayoral challenger Jesus Garcia will come close to beating up on Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Election Day.

I say possibility because we don’t know for sure at this time how Emanuel will do come April 7. Will his political operation turn so many people off to the concept of “Mayor Chuy” that they turn out to vote for Rahm?

OR CAN GARCIA pull off a political upset that would likely be a bigger story than when Harold Washington managed to win the mayoral elections back in 1983?

My gut feeling says it won’t happen, and we’re likely to get “Four more years!” of “Mayor Emanuel,” just like in the end it was totally predictable that Kentucky (the number 1-ranked school in the tourney) beat the Fighting Irish squad that some people want to believe had no business being on the court Saturday night against the Wildcats.

But if Notre Dame had managed to hold on to the lead they had in the second half, or for that matter had not managed to let Kentucky take the lead with just a few seconds left (it was 66-66) – you just know there are Fighting Irish sports fans who will dream forevermore about “What could have been” if Notre Dame had won, and advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA Division I tournament.

Somehow, I suspect that following next week’s Election Day, Garcia will slink back to his post on the Cook County Board (his current term runs through 2018) and only the hardest-core of political geeks will bother to remember his mayoral bid.

PART OF WHAT discourages me about the idea of a Garcia bid succeeding – even though I don’t doubt the sincerity of the segment of Chicago’s population that absolutely detests Emanuel – is the sight of 2nd Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti feeling the need to endorse Hizzoner.

This comes following four years of Fioretti being the most outspoken critic of Emanuel on the City Council. This man spent the past four years finding just about every excuse he could think of to trash Emanuel’s professional reputation.

But the thought of Garcia as mayor supposedly is what it takes to make Fioretti think twice about Rahm and come to the conclusion that maybe he’s “ready and able to take on the tough financial challenges this city faces.”

It plays off the idea that, somehow, Garcia just isn’t capable of overseeing municipal government. Even though he is a former alderman (just like Fioretti) and, state senator, along with current county board member, none of those three decades of public service have taught him much of anything.

NOW I’M NOT going to come out and say this is some sort of ethnic hang-up; as though would-be voters simply think a “foreign” (born in Mexico, but lived the bulk of his life right here in Chicago) guy is naturally less qualified. But it does seem to be an element of the debate.

There is something about the tone of these claims that Chuy isn’t up to the task that seems reminiscent of the way certain people used to talk about why they didn’t like the idea of “Mayor Harold Washington” – but didn’t want it attributed to “racial” hang-ups.

He just didn’t have the kind of background they desired, even though Washington was just as much a part of the Chicago political organization as anybody else. Just as is Garcia!

Of course, there’s also the fact that the Democratic Party is (has been for a couple of decades, since the days of President Bill Clinton) in its own fight for its character. It’s the ‘60s activists grown older versus the activists grown up – as in having outgrown their cantankerous character and now expressing a desire to be the establishment.

THAT IS A good part of why the retirement in two years of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will result in Number Two Democrat Richard Durbin, D-Ill., (he who bad-mouthed Walgreen’s) being passed over for the leadership post for Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. – who is perceived as being more sympathetic to “Wall Street” types.

Just as I’m sure those who say Garcia isn’t qualified to be mayor are really saying they define “qualifications” as being more like Emanuel. It is why it is likely that a Garcia near-victory next week will be written off as nothing more than a loss to soon be forgotten and the masses will go back to thinking that “Chewy” is a Star Wars character.

Unlike the Notre Dame near-victory that some people will never want to forget about. After all, just think of how crushed country singer Ashley Judd (a prominent Kentucky basketball fan) would have been if the Fighting Irish had actually won?

I can’t envision anyone (not even Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, an outspoken Rahm-basher) getting that worked up if Emanuel wins.


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