Saturday, February 28, 2015

Is it now all up to Willie?

If I were a political operative being paid by mayoral hopeful Jesus Garcia, I would have advised him to do whatever was necessary to get former candidate Willie Wilson on his side, and quickly.

I think it would have been a major political coup for his campaign if he could have had a press conference by Friday with Wilson at his side; with the one-time McDonald’s franchise operator saying how much he backs the concept of “Mayor Chuy.”

IT WOULD HAVE created the illusion of all the non-Anglo residents of Chicago uniting against “Mayor 1 percent,” and given a jolt right off the bat to the Garcia mayoral campaign. It would be perceived that the mayor is staggering back to his corner of the political boxing ring.

Likewise, I’m sure Mayor Rahm Emanuel would also like to have that endorsement, although his priority I’m presuming is to keep Wilson silent and away from taking any sides in the run-off mayoral election that Willie did not qualify for.

All of which means Wilson is probably more important now than he was when he was one of five mayoral candidates on the ballot for Tuesday’s municipal elections.

Wilson only took 11 percent of the vote on Tuesday, but he is perceived as having hurt Emanuel already because of the thought that his backers likely wouldn’t have voted at all – meaning the roughly 220,000 votes he received would have been more than 50 percent, which would have been an outright victory instead of qualification for a run-off.

I EXPECT WILSON will enjoy this newfound attention and his ego will milk it for all it’s worth, particularly if he can get either Garcia or Emanuel to promise to deliver something that was part of his own political campaign’s platform.

The longer he goes without backing Garcia, the less his support would mean to that mayoral campaign.

Personally, I found it intriguing that Wilson on Election Night said he would back Garcia. But now the Chicago Sun-Times is publishing stories saying Wilson took back his endorsement.

And everybody is reporting on how both Emanuel and Garcia made the trip to Wilson’s downtown high-rise condo to make their appeal. Almost like they have to grovel for his support – just like the old-time Democratic Party politicos conducted slating sessions to make would-be candidates beg for their place on the party’s ballot.

WHEN LOOKED AT in that context, I find it amusing – the thought of Rahm down on his knees and kissing the ring, so to speak, to try to get another term as mayor.

But Garcia needs it more!

Because no matter how much people want to say the black vote in Chicago turned on Emanuel, the fact is that he won it on Tuesday. Some 51.8 percent of voters in African-American majority wards preferred the mayor, while only 35.8 percent were willing to go for Garcia.

The county commissioner from the Little Village neighborhood has the perception of being the “Latino candidate” and nothing more, at this point. Tapping into more African-American support is essential for him come April 7.

BECAUSE EMANUEL IS close to being the winner come the run-off election. A We Ask America poll taken for the Chicago Retail Merchants Association shows
Emanuel with 48.65 percent and 13.63 percent undecided. He only needs to get a tiny portion of that in order to win.

Then, there’s the polling done this week for Emanuel by the Global Strategy Group, which shows Emanuel already a winner with 50.4 percent. It wouldn’t matter what the 10.6 percent undecided did – except to determine by how much of a margin Garcia loses by.

My gut feeling says that the people inclined to vote for Garcia already have, and that many of the people who wanted another candidate either will find a way to come around to Emanuel or wind up sitting home in the April run-off.

I still remember the moment from a mayoral debate when Garcia said he likes Wilson because of his down-home approach to life that reminded him of people from his native village in northern Mexico. My guess is that we’ll find out soon how truthful Garcia was when he made those comments.


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