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Ex-behind-the-scenes Daley political op steps into the spotlight

Victor Reyes speaks.

The once super-secretive political adviser to Mayor Richard M. Daley — now an equally enigmatic behind-the-scenes lawyer, lobbyist and consultant —made a rare public appearance Wednesday in Pilsen.

And while he didn’t say anything earth-shattering, just hearing his voice was a revelation to me after years of chasing his shadow.

Reyes was part of a panel discussion about redistricting reform and Latino political power hosted by the Latino Policy Forum and CHANGE Illinois, a group that advocates taking redistricting away from state politicians and giving it to a nonpartisan, independent commission.

Reyes, not surprisingly, doesn’t like the idea, although he did surprise me by relaying a message from House Speaker Mike Madigan on why he is opposed.

Afterward, Reyes was gracious enough to stop to talk for a few minutes — long enough to give his take on the upcoming Chicago election.

Capsule version: he expects to work as a campaign adviser to several incumbent aldermen, has no involvement yet in the mayor’s race, but says he would support Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election if asked (after managing former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun’s failed mayoral bid in 2011.)

Of Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, his longtime rival in Southwest Side Latino politics, Reyes said: “Chuy would make a great professor, not a great mayor.”

And there was this personal tidbit that struck me as insightful: Born in Mexico to a Puerto Rican father and Mexican mother who met working at the old Oscar Mayer plant in Chicago, Reyes says he is a U.S. citizen twice over.

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