ain't over until it's over. That trite and
shopworn cliche applies to both sports and
politics. However, here's a message to Chicagoans:
The 2011 mayoral election is over.
deal is done. The fix is in. Can you say Mayor
Tom Dart, with a Southwest Side Irish base and
wide name recognition, abruptly withdrew from the
mayoral contest, claiming that the job would have
caused him to be "less of a father."
What gibberish. The Chicago mayoralty is the
epicenter of Illinois politics, the most powerful
job in the state. Dart quit because he didn't have
the money or the guts, or because he got a promise
for some other post. It's likely the latter.
those inclined toward conspiracies, it could be
conjectured that Dart aborted his bid to make way
for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who
resides in the North Side 47th Ward but whose
powerful father, Illinois House Speaker Mike
Madigan, is the Southwest Side 13th Ward
Democratic committeeman. But Lisa Madigan has
publicly disavowed a mayoral candidacy. If she
joins the race after winning reelection on Nov. 2,
it would smack of opportunism and deceitfulness.
to Democratic Party sources, here's what is
Emanuel, the Northwest Side 5th District
congressman from 2003 to 2008 and the 2-year White
House chief of staff, announced for mayor in early
October. In less than a month, Emanuel raised a
stunning $3.7 million, much coming from Hollywood
(where his brother is a movie producer) and Jewish
sources. He had $1.2 million remaining in his
congressional campaign account, so he has $4.7
million on hand.
question, Emanuel will raise another $3 million by
Christmas, and he will spend more than $10 million
on the contest. Dart could not match that
fund-raising prowess. Only Madigan, with her
father's help, can raise a like amount.
liberal voting record and close ties to Obama
certainly do not ingratiate him to white ethnic
voters on the city's Northwest and Southwest
sides, but he has enormous appeal to Jewish
voters, as he would be Chicago's first Jewish
mayor, and to liberals along the Lakefront. To
black voters, he is certainly the least
unacceptable white contender, and an Obama
endorsement in the April runoff would seal the
be sure, Emanuel, age 50, has a multitude of
character flaws: He is arrogant, autocratic,
profane, imperious and controlling, and he does
not suffer fools gladly. That means he will not
suffer the City Council's self-important pomposity
gladly. If he is elected mayor, there is no doubt
about this: Emanuel will be the boss, and he will
brook no dissent.
Dart demanded his quid pro quo -- and he will be
rewarded. The sheriff covets the federal U.S.
attorney's job, but the Obama Administration, with
Rod Blagojevich's re-trial scheduled for April,
can't fire incumbent Patrick Fitzgerald.
Democratic politicians desperately want a
malleable Democrat as U.S. attorney so as to
minimize their future exposure. Dart is their guy.
are rampant that Obama will appoint Cook County
State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to a federal
judgeship. That clears the way for Dart to succeed
her as the county's chief prosecutor. Or,
perchance, if Dart, who resides in the Southwest
Side 19th Ward, wants to be "more of a
father," he could prevail upon Emanuel to
persuade Obama to make him a federal judge and
work 9-to-5 hours.
the Chicago mayoralty is off the table, Dart, a
former state representative, surely lusts after
the number two job in the state -- the Illinois
governorship. Being a federal judge, the U.S.
attorney or the state's attorney would be an
excellent steppingstone to the governorship.
with Dart out, Emanuel is a cinch to run first in
the Feb. 22 nonpartisan primary and advance to the
April 2 runoff. Against Dart, Emanuel would have
competed for the city's white vote, which is half
the electorate. With the withdrawal from the
campaign of Alderman Bob Fioretti (2nd) due to
health issues, Emanuel now faces possible
competition for the white vote only from Madigan
or Alderman Ed Burke (14th).
the entire Northwest Side Democratic establishment
has fallen into line behind Emanuel. He has the
public support of Aldermen Dick Mell (33rd), Marge
Laurino (39th), Pat O'Connor (40th), Pat Levar
(45th) and Gene Schulter (47th), as well as
Committeemen Bill Banks (36th), Patti Jo Cullerton
(38th) and Randy Barnette (39th) and state
Representative John D'Amico (D-15). Levar's wife
was a congressional staffer for Emanuel.
state representatives Ralph Capparelli and Rich
Bradley were running the Northwest Side Dart
operation. "We had over 21,000 (nominating
petition) signatures" for Dart, said
Capparelli, who expressed disappointment over
Dart's withdrawal. "He could have won."
age 66, who has served in the City Council since
1968, has $6.2 million in his campaign account,
could match Emanuel dollar-for-dollar, and he
could co-opt much of the Southwest Side white
vote. Fioretti's base is the Near South Side, and
he has $136,000 in his campaign account.
the 2008 election, 106,387 votes were cast in the
five Southwest Side wards and 224,884 were cast in
the 10 Northwest Side wards.
will be at least two Hispanic candidates: City
Colleges of Chicago Board chairman Gery Chico, who
lost the 2004 Democratic U.S. Senate primary to
Obama, and city Clerk Miguel del Valle, who was
appointed in 2006 after former clerk James Laski
pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges and who
was elected to a full term in 2007. Chico is
Mexican American, and del Valle is Puerto Rican.
The Hispanic vote will not exceed 12 percent. If
both run, both lose.
fourth, no Harold Washington-like candidate has
emerged capable of energizing black voters. Blacks
comprise roughly 40 percent of the electorate, and
three or more black candidates will be running:
state Senator James Meeks, a social conservative
who is the pastor of Salem Baptist Church, state
Senator Rickey Hendon, who lost the 2010
Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, and
former U.S. senator Carol Moseley Braun, who was
defeated in 1998 after one term in the Senate.
Other possible candidates include Board of Review
Commissioner Larry Rogers Jr. and U.S.
Representative Danny Davis.
have flaws, and none is capable of electrifying
and motivating black voters, as Washington did in
1983 and 1987. "Crossover" is the key
term. What black candidate is capable of
attracting white votes? Answer: None.
is a retread, but she has especial appeal to black
women. Meeks said that he would not quit his
church, which raises questions about church-state
separation. His anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage
stance has great appeal to black evangelicals.
Rogers is unknown. Davis and Hendon are obnoxious,
in-your-face, big-spending, pro-affirmative action
liberals -- the kind of black politician that
ethnic white voters detest.
early presumption was that Dart and Emanuel would
compete for the white vote and that Meeks and
Braun would compete for the black vote, with a
white-versus-black runoff and a white victor. Now,
with Emanuel as the white frontrunner and with a
fractured black field, the top black contender may
not eclipse 15 to 18 percent of the vote. An early
poll paid by black business leaders put Braun at
11 percent, due to her residual name
identification, and Meeks at 5 percent. Emanuel
had 22 percent, and Dart had 12 percent.
half of Chicagoans have no clue as to whom they
want as mayor, and Democratic politicians,
especially African Americans, are ambivalent.
Here's a rundown, based on performance:
Braun carried Chicago in 1998 over victorious
Republican Peter Fitzgerald by 552,729-145,540.
She got 315,890 votes in the city's predominantly
black wards and 236,839 votes in the predominantly
white and Hispanic wards. She lost the 41st and
45th wards, and she narrowly carried other
Northwest Side wards. That only proves that Braun
can beat a white conservative Republican, which
Rahm is not.
Hendon ran third in the 2010 Democratic primary
for lieutenant governor, with 113,690 votes
overall and with 68,233 (21.9 percent of the total
cast) in Chicago. Had West Sider Hendon not run,
splitting the black vote, Art Turner would have
been nominated. Hendon is much reviled on the
finished fourth in the 2004 primary for U.S.
Senate, getting 53,433 votes (4.3 percent of the
total); Obama won with 655,923 votes (52.8
percent). Chico got 29,414 votes (6.4 percent) in
Chicago. He had a bare plurality in the Hispanic
wards, and he averaged about 500 votes in the
Northwest Side wards. Chico is going nowhere.
He won a hotly contested 2002 congressional
primary after Mayor Rich Daley dispatched an army
of city payrollers, led by now-convicted Don
Tomczak, to the district. He beat Nancy Kasczak by
46,774-35,716, getting 50.5 percent of the vote,
with six others running.
backing from every Northwest Side Democratic
committeeman, Emanuel carried the 36th Ward with
54.2 percent of the vote, the 38th Ward with 46.3
percent, the 39th Ward with 56.8 percent, the 40th
Ward with 57.6 percent, the 41st Ward with 43.1
percent, the 45th Ward with 46.8 percent and the
47th Ward with 49 percent. Clearly, there was
voter resistance to Emanuel in 2002, and there
will be similar resistance in 2011. As a pro-Obama
liberal, Emanuel is a hard sell, but if the 2011
runoff is a choice between a pro-Obama white
candidate and a pro-Obama black candidate, white
voters will opt for the least obnoxious --
early prediction: Emanuel is the man to beat.
Unless Madigan runs, Emanuel is the next mayor.