Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday brushed aside questions about the defeat of Blake Sercye, his handpicked candidate for the Cook County Board.
Sercye served as field coordinator for Gov. Pat Quinn’s 2010 campaign and as Emanuel’s political director in 2011. Emanuel and County Board President Toni Preckwinkle put aside their differences to unite behind Sercye’s candidacy.
It wasn’t enough. Sercye finished second behind Richard Boykin, former chief-of-staff to U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill.
In the Chicago precincts of a district that includes the western suburbs of Broadview, Bellwood, Maywood and Oak Park, Sercye finished fourth.
On Wednesday, Emanuel was asked what Sercye’s disappointing showing in Chicago says about the mayor’s own popularity on the West Side among African-American voters with the mayoral election less than a year away.
“You have such an optimistic outlook. I can’t thank you enough,” the mayor told a reporter sarcastically.
Emanuel then turned serious and praised Sercye.
“I’m proud that he worked on my campaign and proud that he put his name forward and did extremely well in the election for a first-time candidate. He has a lot more to offer,” the mayor said.
“When I talked to him last night and when I talked to him today, I told him, `Rest up. You have public service in your bones’ and that’s a good thing when you have a young man who wants to serve. That’s what I think it means.”
Public opinion polls have showed Emanuel’s approval rating declining among black voters who helped put him in office because of school closings, charter openings, persistent crime and a teachers’ strike the mayor helped to instigate.
The mayor’s only consolation is the fact that Preckwinkle, who has pointedly refused to rule out a race against Emanuel, joined the mayor in endorsing Sercye in an attempt to derail the political comeback of convicted former Chicago Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th).