Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It’s mayoral campaign time, and Fioretti didn’t make it. Will Meeks do better?

It is a shame that Robert Fioretti couldn’t have held out for one more day with his dreams of running for mayor of Chicago.

FIORETTI: Recovery, not campaigning
It’s not that I thought the alderman from the second ward ever had a chance of winning the election to be held in February, or even qualify for the runoff likely to be held in April.

BUT I HAVE to credit Fioretti for having some serious dedication. Back in the days when everybody thought Richard M. Daley would run for yet another term as mayor, Fioretti was willing to publicly say he was in the running too.

It wasn’t just some whim that cropped up in Fioretti’s head in the seconds after Daley said he would retire to spend more time with wife Maggie – which is what all too many of the potential mayoral bids seem like.

Which may well be why some people are taking the mayoral desires of Rahm Emanuel seriously – he was willing to say way back when that he’d like to have the political post.

For what it’s worth, Fioretti formally announced his intention to back off of the mayoral campaign on Tuesday (a.k.a., Election Day). Which means he was competing for attention with all those people trying to get a handle on voter turnout while also watching the state election candidates cast their ballots (if they hadn’t used an absentee ballot or Early Voting Center option).

IT MEANS THERE is the potential that Fioretti’s departure passed unnoticed, and unlamented – making him the one mayoral hopeful whose campaign couldn’t pre-empt the now-completed election cycle.

His campaign didn’t even last long enough to exist in the actual municipal campaign cycle. It died during the state government cycle that many view as merely the warm-up act to the “real” elections.

MEEKS: Realizing his limits
I’ll express my regrets for Fioretti’s official reason for backing off a mayoral campaign – he has been diagnosed with cancer. While doctors are optimistic they can address the problem, he is going to have to spend the next two months undergoing a treatment regimen.

Which means he doesn’t have time to focus on getting his nominating petitions in order to get a spot on the ballot, and to fight off any challenges that the Emanuel camp might come up with to try to clear the path as much as possible for their guy, AND also to campaign seriously to try to urge people to actually vote for him to be mayor beginning in May of 2011.

ALTHOUGH IT SEEMS that Fioretti was experiencing the same difficulty that many political aspirants encounter – he was having trouble raising money that would cover the expenses of running a serious campaign.

Too many people don’t want to tick off the politicos they think have a serious chance to win, so they don’t want it going on record that they gave even a token amount of money to Fioretti. In short, his campaign wasn’t even worth a “hedging one’s bet” donation.

So now we’re losing out on the candidate who would have tried to make an issue out of Police Superintendent Jody Weis’ performance (and the fact that the cops themselves don’t approve of him), and also of trying to reform the way the city assigns the Streets & Sanitation crews that pick up the trash (which may well be one of the most important services the city performs for its residents).

The other “story” that broke in recent days relating to the mayoral campaign is one that I consider a non-story because I fully expected it to happen.

IT IS THE one about the Rev. James Meeks saying that he would reduce his workload and commitment to his church (Salem Baptist, Cottage Grove Avenue at 114th Street) IF he gets elected mayor.

There were the people who got all worked up a month ago when Meeks, also a state senator from the Far South Side and surrounding suburbs, said he fully intended to be a pastor and a mayor.

Some people started telling scare stories about a crazy preacherman working on the Fifth Floor of City Hall. I never bought it, because I always figured that Meeks himself would have enough sense to realize that the time necessary to be an effective mayor would be too much for him to continue to handle all his church’s tasks.

Since I never figured he’d drop out of the political race to remain a preacher, it was just a matter of time before he decided that he’d become merely the inspiration for the Salem Baptist Church, rather than the man who handles all the administrative details to keep it going. If Meeks really were capable of managing a church full-time and serving as mayor, then perhaps he'd also be capable of walking on Lake Michigan.

THAT IS WHY his congregation (nearly 20,000 people) learned Sunday that senior staff at the church will begin taking on more responsibilities (thereby freeing up his time to campaign for mayor), and that Dearal L. Jordan will take on the duties of pastor.

It doesn’t change the degree of Meeks’ religious devotion, or of his own ideological beliefs on some conservative issues. It merely means that Meeks now has time to focus on actually winning both an election and runoff, which is a serious possibility depending on how intensely a majority of Chicagoans hate the concept of “Mayor Rahm Emanuel.”


1 comment:

Mike Payne said...

Senator Meek's fine work in Springfield against some North Side voting groups, would assure that those same groups (unavoidably needed to win) would vote in the corpse of a pigeon first.