Rahm Emanuel is not exactly the most popular mayor in America. In Chicago. he has been criticized for closing 50 public schools, not doing enough to reduce crime, and being too cozy with big business. Now with the election of Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York, can a real liberal candidate challenge the centrist Emanuel?
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Emanuel had a left challenger in the Chicago election of 2011. Gery Chico positioned himself as a labor-friendly candidate, but he was no match for Emanuel’s machine of famous supporters, like President Obama, and rich donors from Chicago to Hollywood. (Possibly clients of his agent brother Ari.)
Now possible challengers include popular congressman Luis Gutierrez. He has been a national leader because of his efforts at getting immigration reform passed in Washington. Gutierrez’s name has often been floated as potential candidate for mayor, and he could no doubt galvanize the growing Latino vote. More than that, Gutierrez could build a coalition vote of voters disgruntled with Emanuel’s performance of mayor, form African-American voters to low-wage workers that feel left behind in a struggling economy.
Chicago could also potentially have a female progressive mayor in 2015. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has been named as a potential challenger to the mayor. Her no nonsense demeanor could help clear the constant perception of Chicago as a corrupt town where backdoor deals are cut. Of course, she can’t completely stop corruption in Chicago. However, Emanuel’s scandal of a former employee being indicted on a bribery charge in Ohio can’t be overlooked as just Chicago politics.
A long-shot challenger could be Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis. Through the 2012 teacher’s strike and 2013 school closings, she has shown that she can stand up to the Emanuel machine. If she chooses to run for mayor, she would have the instant support of unions who feel like Emanuel threw them under the bus after he was elected. It remains to be seen if any of these people will run for mayor in 2015. However, Rahm Emanuel can definitely expect that his road to re-election won’t be an easy one if Chicago liberals band together to challenge him.