Saturday, March 7, 2015

Will Preckwinkle put herself in harm’s way by daring to endorse Garcia?

Could it be that Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is getting so much political pressure that she’s now feeling compelled to give an endorsement to her county board ally, Jesus Garcia, in his bid to become Chicago mayor?

It would seem so. Because although Preckwinkle remained neutral during the first part of the municipal election cycle and earlier this week told the Chicago Sun-Times “that’s where I still am,” it is now being reported that Preckwinkle could still wind up becoming a Chuy backer come the April 7 run-off election.

FROM A POLITICAL standpoint, it makes a certain amount of sense for Preckwinkle to stay out of this campaigning. She has to work with the current mayor, who could still wind up winning.

The last thing she wants is for Rahm Emanuel to win re-election to another four year term against her opposition. It would make her look weak AND probably result in Emanuel feeling the need to spite her politically every opportunity he got.

Governments work better when there’s a certain level of cooperation between them. Nobody wins if Emanuel and Preckwinkle become mortal enemies and the local political scene devolves into a city versus inner suburbs fight!

So while she might not be all that enthused about Emanuel, Preckwinkle still has to work with him – at least through early May and possibly for much longer.

IT’S THE REASON she wasn’t enthused about running herself for mayor in this election cycle – even though there were a number of Anybody But Rahm-ers out there who would eagerly have taken up the cause of the long-time Hyde Park resident as our city’s chief executive.

It actually wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for Preckwinkle to offer Garcia her support. Both are of the progressive ideological streak that political people like Emanuel view to be too impractical to actually get anything done.

There’s also the fact that during his four-plus years on the Cook County Board, Garcia has been a solid Preckwinkle backer. He has supported just about everything she has tried to accomplish.

I don’t doubt that on a personal level, she’d find it to be much easier to deal with a “Mayor Garcia” than she ever has to cope with Emanuel.

BUT IT’S GOING to come down to whether Preckwinkle ever gets the impression that Garcia could win this mayoral election on his own.

In which case, she’s going to want to become one of Chuy’s people so she can claim to be on the winning team. She’s like those people who back in 2006 started showing up at U.S. Cellular Field to bask in the glory of the Chicago White Sox winning the World Series the year before.

Once the team’s luster faded, they stopped showing.

If Garcia can get the luster of a winning candidate, she and many other political people will suddenly find their way to backing his campaign.

UNFORTUNATELY FOR GARCIA, he’s at a point where he probably needs the backing of people like Preckwinkle (and the money of the Service Employees International Union political action committees) to give him that luster.

Somebody’s going to have to be willing to take a risk and stick their neck out, or else Emanuel’s resources likely will give him a slim victory in the run-off election.

This may sound weak, but it’s actually appropriate. Because I still remember back in 2008 during the Democratic presidential primary when our then-Congressman from the northwest side waited until the day Hillary R. Clinton dropped out before he would formally endorse Barack Obama for president.

Emanuel himself wasn’t willing to stick his neck out to back the “favorite son” candidate for whom he later became chief of staff. I suppose it shouldn’t be any more surprising that Preckwinkle hesitates to become a Chuy person.


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