Monday, August 25, 2014

Will anyone serious dare challenge Emanuel for mayoral post in '15

I have seen the assorted polls that claim Mayor Rahm Emanuel is vulnerable come the February municipal elections, and could be beat by Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

I don't doubt the fact that the African-American segment of Chicago's population (not quite one-third of the city's people) has its gripes. And that the officials in the Chicago Public Schools system also wouldn't mind seeing someone else in charge at City Hall.

YET I FIND it hard to believe that anybody is going to be able to dump Rahm come next year.

Perhaps it's because it just seems so incredibly impossible for anyone being willing to come forth and take on Emanuel as a political opponent.

It just seems like political people with any real ambition perceive a mayoral campaign as the equivalent of a kamikaze mission resulting in the same fate that befell those Japanese fighter pilots who may have taken several lives with their crashes into the hulls of ships when they also blew themselves up.

Somehow, I don't think anyone will build shrines to the memory of a political challenger the way Japan has memorials to the pilots who literally gave up their lives for their country.

I REALLY BELIEVE the viewpoint of one political opponent I saw on television a few weeks ago who said he was convinced Lewis herself desperately wanted Anybody but Rahm to be mayor.

But does she really have it in herself to run for the office? I'm not sure.

As far as the other people who have talked about running for office, I believe Robert Shaw will be on the ballot and give a worse political performance than did Carol Moseley Braun when she was the African-American candidate in the 2011 mayoral campaign.

And what about Robert Fioretti, the second ward alderman who has hinted he will run and is making a point of appearing all over the city (just last week, he was in the Pullman neighborhood, familiarizing himself with the talk of turning the remains of the one-time rail car factory into a national park)?

I'M NOT CONVINCED he's well-enough known to gain much more than a 1 percent voter tally come Election Day. Although considering that the redistricting process has taken away his ward and made him a lame-duck alderman, I don't doubt he will run.

He'll get a few months of public attention for saying nasty things about the incumbent mayor -- even though it won't translate into votes.

But I do wonder if Fioretti and Shaw could wind up taking just enough votes that they could take from the concept of a Lewis campaign -- if she decides to seek electoral office.

Perhaps I'd think more of her campaign if she had solid labor support.

BUT IT APPEARS she has the backing of teachers' unions, while the unions that represent construction workers and other trades (according to the Chicago Tribune) are implying they will stick with Emanuel.

Heck, they are getting their work. They don't have the same objections that the teachers' unions and other educators do with the ham-handed way in which Rahm has tried to impose his will upon the city's public school system.

It's not like in the November election cycle for governor where Republican Bruce Rauner really does have organized labor united in anger against him to the point where they're willing to forgive (for now) all of the things that Gov. Pat Quinn did to them the past four years that they hated at the time.

Which may be the reason that Quinn ultimately closes the gap that early polls show with Rauner in a significant lead.

BUT BACK TO the city elections, where various polls showing Emanuel in trouble generally ask people about head-to-head candidate matchups. When it's not likely this will be a two-candidate campaign.

Someone will be bound to come forth to challenge Emanuel because they have nothing better to do with themselves for the next few months. Whether it will be anyone who can seriously stir the spirit of the electorate is questionable.

I don't know if Karen Lewis will be amongst them. Will ego get the best of her? We'll have to see.


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