Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday is here. Now go vote!

Although I started out this particular election cycle wishing it were possible for Miguel del Valle to run a competitive campaign, I have become comfortable with the concept of “Mayor Rahm Emanuel.”
NEELY: The only safe prediction

So if it turns out in the final hours of Tuesday that the former White House chief of staff has managed to get the sufficient percentage of votes so he can automatically become mayor in May (rather than endure an April 5 run-off election), I’m not going to be among those wishing to slit my wrists in reaction.

FOR THE ONLY real question at stake in terms of the city-wide positions in Tuesday’s municipal elections is whether Emanuel’s significant lead over each of the other candidates wishing to become mayor is a majority overall – or just 49 percent.

Not that I think a run-off would automatically result in all of the rest of Chicago uniting against Emanuel. I honestly think the ABRs of the world won’t be enough people to vote for Anybody But Rahm.

If I had to predict now, I think the people who backed former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun out of a desire to have an African-American person as mayor will be so disgusted that they couldn’t even finish in second place that most will sit out a run-off. That would turn Emanuel's current backers into a run-off majority.

Even if the backers of Gery Chico and del Valle come together, I can’t help but notice that Emanuel in various polls seems to get a sizable (if not overwhelming) chunk of the Latino voter bloc (some Latinos want to be on the winning side so that they have a chance to gain the “goodies” of government).

WHICH MEANS THAT whether it is on Tuesday or on April 5, I see Rahm Emanuel becoming the next mayor of Chicago.

I have the same concerns about Emanuel that some of the ABRs have – he’s a political operative with such a strong business orientation that I wonder if he can appreciate those individuals who have to work for a living.
MENDOZA: The next clerk?

Although I must admit the image out of Washington of a foul-mouthed, tough-spoken politico doesn’t bother me. Perhaps we need someone in charge who is willing to stand up to people, and knows there are times when the appropriate reaction is to tell someone where to go.

Also, I must admit to despising the sentiments of those people who are ABR because they’re desperately looking for something they can twist into a political defeat for President Barack Obama. A part of me wants an Emanuel victory just because I realize how much it would thoroughly upset the crowd of ideologues who want Rahm to lose because of his Obama (and Bill Clinton) ties.

BUT SINCE I see the election of Emanuel as being inevitable, a part of me is hoping that he manages to get the bare majority on Tuesday. Let’s get this campaigning over with. A run-off election cycle would turn into childish chatter that we’d all be better off without.

It’s not like the other city-wide offices are going to carry on after Tuesday. Stephanie Neely will continue to be the city Treasurer (she’s unopposed), while we WILL pick a new city clerk – and for the first time in city history, it will be a woman.

It’s just a question of whether it will be state Rep. Susana Mendoza, D-Chicago, who gets to come back home from Springfield to be a politico, or whether Patricia Horton gets to move up from the obscurity of her seat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to be the person that runs the office that sells you the city sticker that you’re supposed to buy every year and put on your car.

The one thing I do believe (we’ll find out for sure if I know what I’m talking about by day’s end) is that the Latino voter bloc that seems to be split by a 2-1 ratio for Chico over del Valle likely will unite and give a large-enough base of voter support that I think the end result of this election will be that Mendoza can give up her part-time Springfield residence to return to the city and run the clerk’s office.
EMANUEL: Is resistance truly futile?

I SUSPECT THE aldermanic races in the 50 wards will provide the true excitement that will drive voter turnout in the wards where the incumbent has decided to follow the lead of Richard M. Daley and leave voluntarily.

In particular, I am curious to see how the 20th Ward turns out. I don’t live there, nor do I know anyone who does, but it will be a sight to see if rapper “Rhymefest” becomes 20th Ward Alderman Che Smith, deposing ex-cop and incumbent alderman Willie Cochran.

I also have an inquiring mind, so to speak, about the 10th Ward (which is my birthplace, and where I still have some relatives living), which had the city’s original Spanish-speaking enclave nearly a century ago and may elect its first Latino alderman (although Richard Martinez is actually a Mexican/Polish-American, to be technical).

Or, it may keep incumbent 10th Ward Alderman John Pope, who has represented the far southeast corner of Chicago since 1999 and has managed to have significant Latino voter support in past election cycles.

I ALSO WANT to see who gets to replace 45th Ward Alderman Pat Levar, since five of the seven candidates who will be on Tuesday’s ballot have taken to sending me unsolicited copies of all their press statements.

I haven’t written about that particular Northwest Side ward during this election cycle, but the feistiness of these candidates came through in what they were sending me. I can only envision if I had made it up to “Six Corners” sometime in the past couple of months (it has been about a year since I have been to the point where Milwaukee Avenue cuts through Irving Park Road and Cicero Avenue) how outrageous the scene must really be.

A true political “brawl” worthy of Chicago’s political reputation.


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