Thursday, December 4, 2014

Can Rahm opponents unite to stop Emanuel from getting vote majority?

A lot of people are watching the mayoral campaign, speculating on the chances that Mayor Rahm Emanuel can be forced into a run-off election come April – thinking that a one-on-one campaign would allow all those Rahm bashers to unite against him.

At this point, however, I’m skeptical that the people of Chicago will be able to unite behind a single candidate. Let’s be honest; various polls show enough undecided people that all Emanuel has to do is swing over a slight share of them to his camp, and he wins!

NOW I’M NOT going so far as to predict an Emanuel victory in the Feb. 27 elections. I’m just saying I’m not going to view it as the largest surprise in the world if Rahm, with the benefits of incumbency and that huge campaign cash stash, winds up prevailing.

Anybody who thinks Emanuel is doomed to defeat is being ridiculously premature.

I don’t doubt there are people who are determined to dump Rahm from office – there always have been hard-core, outspoken critics of Emanuel every time he has put his name on a ballot. Those critics and their opposition has always been overcome.

In this particular election cycle, there seems to be two (of nine overall) mayoral challengers who are getting attention paid to them by voters – 2nd Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti and Cook County Board commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Chicago.

GARCIA IS IN the news these days because he got a pledge of a $250,000 campaign contribution from the Service Employees International Union’s political committee.

Yet before the money that would more than double the size of his campaign fund ($477,000, according to the Chicago Tribune) could even get into his bank account to be spent, there already are challengers.

There are those people within the union who are claiming that union has no business providing financial help, or support of any kind, to any candidate.

There probably are people within the SEIU who want to dump Emanuel from office as much as the Chicago Teachers Union officials who have been particularly outspoken (and who kicked in some cash to Garcia’s campaign as well).

BUT IT WON’T shock me to learn that Fioretti has his backers there, and probably some people who aren’t about to back Garcia. Which is why various polls usually show those two men with about 17 percent support each, to about 35 percent for Emanuel.

I was particularly entranced with the results of a poll by San Francisco-based pollster David Binder that put Emanuel’s support level at 44 percent (compared to 16 percent for Garcia and 15 percent for Fioretti).

When asked how people would vote if it was narrowed down to Emanuel and Garcia (who’s going to try to portray himself as the Latino take on Harold Washington), it becomes 49 percent for the mayor to 37 percent for Garcia – with another.

That leaves 14 percent who can’t commit to either. Why do I suspect that Emanuel, with his nearly $10 million (and growing) campaign fund, is capable of finding “2 percent” of those people  who would refuse to accept Garcia and would wind up holding their noses, so to speak, while casting ballots for Rahm.

THE FACT IS that Chicagoans upset with the idea of “four more years!” of Emanuel haven’t united behind an opposition candidate. Considering how malcontent in nature many Chicagoans can be, I won’t be surprised if they never do.

Personally, I’d be as intrigued by the concept of “Mayor Chuy” at the head of Chicago city government as many of his hardest-core supporters. I’m just not convinced yet that there are enough of us out there.

Unless there can be some sense of unity amongst the opposition, there’s a chance that the people who are already looking past Feb. 27 to an April 7 run-off will wind up disappointed that there’s nobody to vote for and only the Chicago Cubs’ Opening Day defeat to the St. Louis Cardinals two days earlier to ponder over.


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