Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why Rahm Emanuel's Set-Back to "Chuy" Garcia is Such a Big Deal

First, just from the political angle, this is a humiliation for Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago mayor with mountainous hubris.

No Chicago mayoral candidate had to face a run-off since these rules were made in the 1980s. (The run-off rules were made in the context of Harold Washington and his victory in a three-way split of Washington, 37%, Jane Byrne, 33% and Richard M. Daley, 30% in the February 23, 1988 Democratic primary.)

Challenger Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia was able to dent Emanuel's momentum in yesterday's primary.
Emanuel: 45.4 %
Garcia: 33.9%

Emanuel and his business allies expected an easy victory. And the Emanuel campaign rolled in old friend and ally President Barack Obama to campaign for him. (Emanuel had been chief of staff in the early Obama White House.) Thursday, Obama made a speech at an ostensibly historical site (Pullman district) occasion, singling out Emanuel for special praise.

Emanuel developed a big war chest, $30 million, to maintain his spot as mayor.
But Emanuel had made many enemies among ordinary Chicagoans with his education and development policies. As this blog has noted, he closed dozens of schools, and created discord with his education department's sending students across gang lines. Some experts have attributed youth shootings to his school closure policies. 
He has been anti-democratic, displacing the democratic power of an elected school board with his cherry picked one, headed by his developer friend, Penny Pritzker.

Garcia's potent challenge to Emanuel is a delicious news for Chicago teachers and their allies. Garcia's showing can be credited in part to the work and endorsement of the Chicago Teachers Union. Labor Notes cited the CTU role, and reported the story as "Chicago Teachers Force Rahm into a Runoff".

Moreover, this could be the beginning of the end of Emanuel's career, and the end of a banner Democrat for media enablers to point to when pushing the education privatization/"reform" agenda.