Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rahm/Chuy could be intriguing political brawl, if we ever get to see it

Could it be that we’ll have a competitive election cycle next year for municipal government; with Rahm Emanuel facing a serious challenge from experienced politico Jesus “Chuy” Garcia to be the next mayor?

It’s possible – presuming that Garcia is able to avoid getting bogged down in the legalistic minutia that experienced political people like Emanuel can use to take down an opponent without actually having to campaign against them.

MONDAY WAS THE first day for people wishing to be on the ballot for the Feb. 27 elections to file their nominating petitions. Emanuel’s people were among those who filed in hopes of getting listed on the top ballot spot.

Garcia wasn’t there. His campaign is waiting until later in the week to file. Officially, they are saying they want to use every bit of time possible to make up for the fact that it was just a few weeks ago that Chuy said publicly he would run for office.

For all I know, Garcia may wind up waiting until the absolute deadline at the close of business on Nov. 24 before filing his petitions – in hopes of getting the absolute last spot on the ballot.

Electoral conventional wisdom contends that being listed first or last on a ballot is worth more votes than being lost in the middle of the list – on account of undecided voters merely picking one of those slots.

FOR AN ELECTION as high-profile as Chicago mayor, there probably won’t be many undecideds. So rushing for an early Monday filing to get the top slot isn’t as important.

But what will be intriguing will be how people react once Garcia does file his petitions. I already sense the feeling of a ballot challenge to try to claim that Garcia doesn’t qualify to run for mayor because he didn’t show enough voter support.

Get him kicked off the ballot, and it won’t matter how many people would like a chance to vote for him. As evidenced by a new poll commissioned by the Chicago Teachers Union (which officially has endorsed Garcia).

They contend that if it were merely a two-candidate race between Emanuel and Garcia, Rahm would take 36 percent with 31 percent for Chuy and another 30 percent undecided, as of now.

WITH SOME THREE months remaining between now and Election Day, that’s a lot of time to dig into that “undecided” vote.

Which is why it is likely that people supportive of Emanuel will go the ballot challenge route. Even if you are unable to kick him off, you can keep his campaign with its limited and yet-to-be raised funds bogged down in trying to justify its ballot spot – rather than seriously campaigning and reminding us of the reasons that many Chicagoans (62 percent have “unfavorable” views of him, according to the teachers union’s poll) wish they could dump Rahm from office.

Now I’m not saying that there really is anything wrong with the nominating petitions Garcia has yet to file. In fact, one Garcia supporter I spoke with stated it perfectly, in saying, “It will be Rahm being Rahm, being a tough guy with his money.”

As in the nearly $10 million he already has raised for his re-election campaign.

IT MIGHT BE peasant money compared to the nearly $100 million that got spent on the recently-completed gubernatorial election (with two-thirds of that on behalf of Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner).

Although it should be stated that Emanuel himself survived a serious ballot challenge in 2011. Could the desire to dump Rahm make it possible for Garcia to survive this year?

That might be where Garcia runs into real problems. Because even his supporters admit his recognition declines outside of the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods, along with the South Chicago and East Side communities that comprise the bulk of the city’s Mexican-oriented population.

Can Chuy make himself and his anti-establishment (as in anything connected to the name “Daley”) political background known even if his very existence on the ballot is being challenged?

WILL THE REST of Chicago take to Garcia? Or will the anti-Emanuel vote wind up getting split between 2nd Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti, former alderman Robert Shaw and the others (including one token Republican) who are likely to file nominating petitions?

That will be the key question in determining whether Emanuel’s political fantasy will come true!


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