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Rahm’s Bombshell. Toni’s Dilemma

Don Rose 14 September 2018 No Comment

To the surprise of most and the delight of many, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel–alias Mayor 1 Percent, aka Mayor Coverup–announced he would not seek a third term.

   Reasons genuinely unknown–maybe he thought he couldn’t win, maybe he was just too beat up to take on the fight, maybe he realized he would have a miserable time trying to cure Chicago’s deep-set ills in another term and maybe he learned the city would not land Amazon’s new HQ, which would have been his saving grace.  I don’t care why but I applaud his decision.

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   The resignation set off a still endless stream of speculation as to who else might join the dozen already declared candidates who planned to use him as their primary reason for running. He was a wonderful target for an “I’m not Rahm” campaign–which is all that half the contenders have to offer outside of their own egos.

   It’s hard to write a weekly column when the situation is still in rapid flux, with new names popping up every hour or so, changing the prospects faster than Trump tells lies.

  With that caveat I’ll offer a bit of my own speculation.

   Among the dozens of possible new candidates, only one name promises to be a decisive game-changer: Toni Preckwinkle, who is President of the Cook County Board and chair of the county Democratic Party. She has formed an exploratory committee and sounds more and more like she will take the plunge.

   A five term alderman and now unopposed for her third term as board president, Preckwinkle, 71, who has governed with one foot in the reform camp and the other in the Chicago political swamp, would instantly become the odds-on favorite. Previous polls show she could have defeated Emanuel himself, both in the last election and in the forthcoming 2019 contest.

    Please don’t take this evaluation as an endorsement–just a hard-headed look at political reality.

     There is also a reasonable possibility that she might decide against running because winning could be a pyrrhic victory at this point in her life. The next mayoral term, apart from the glories of governing in the historic role of both mayor and chair of the party–a feat last accomplished by Richard J. Daley, Boss of All Bosses–will be one Chicago-sized headache.

   The city remains in deepest financial doo-doo with billions in pension-fund obligations requiring new revenues, whether through yet another big increase in property taxes or a host of “creative” add-on taxes. Preckwinkle has felt the slings and arrows of having increased county taxes already–including an ill-conceived soda-pop tax the board had to revoke. Thus her nickname, “Taxwinkle.”

   Then there are the problems of police reform and those thousands of horrendous shootings and murders. She hasn’t been able to offer up any solutions in her county role, so why should we think she has any realistic solution that she could effectuate?

   Does she want these and numerous other headaches as the finale to her successful public life?

   Sorry–no point in further mayoral speculation until she decides.

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Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

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