Fioretti schedules Saturday announcement in race for mayor

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Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said Monday he will decide by the end of the week whether to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel and revised downward the amount of money he believes it would take to compete with the prolific fundraiser.

Fioretti refused to respond directly to speculation that he would declare his candidacy for mayor on Saturday. But the smile on his face gave it away.

“I’m considering it. I’m seriously considering it,” he said during a break at Monday’s meeting of the City Council Finance Committee.

Fioretti’s political adviser Michael Kolenc was less cagey.

“We have a big event planned for Saturday. All we’re asking is that people save the day for an important announcement,” Kolenc said, promising more details by the middle of the week.

For months, Fioretti has been saying that he would need at least $3 million and as much as $5 million to go head-to-head with the $8.3 million-and-rising that Emanuel has raked in and the $1.35 million-and-rising that the super-PAC created by the mayor’s supporters has collected.

He also has said his decision would be based on making certain that he had an “organization in every ward, people committed to a progressive agenda” that includes an elected school board, more police hiring and educational opportunities throughout the city.

RELATED: Is Robert Fioretti just listening, or is he running for mayor?

On Monday, Fioretti changed his tune.

Armed with the overwhelming results from email survey of his supporters, the alderman said it might not take as much money as he thought to defeat the unpopular incumbent with a 29 percent approval rating in a recent Chicago Sun-Times poll.

“For six, seven hours, we got about 700 responses and 600 of them said, `Run, Bob, run,’ “ Fioretti said.

“Money may not be that big of an issue in this campaign now ….. The reaction that we hear from the people of this city and how we have a concentrated, concerned message — it may not be that much.”

Fioretti said he was equally encouraged by the 18,750 new Chicago voters heavily concentrated in black and Hispanic neighborhoods registered by a coalition of community organizations leading the charge for a higher minimum wage.

If Fioretti and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis both enter the race, it would probably make it tougher for Emanuel to get the 50 percent-plus-one he needs to avoid a run-off.

Fioretti has accused the mayor’s allies of creating the super-PAC bankrolled by a handful of business titans to “destroy” the City Council’s Progressive Caucus.

He has argued that a questionnaire distributed to aldermanic candidates by “Chicago Forward” telegraphs Emanuel’s plan for a post-election property tax hike.

Fioretti’s campaign announcement is expected to reprise his mid-April address to the City Club of Chicago.

With Lewis cheering him on from the audience, Fioretti accused Emanuel of presiding over the widening of Chicago into two cities. He also unveiled a liberal, pro-union agenda that would make newly-elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio proud.

To solve Chicago’s $20 billion pension crisis, Fioretti favors a 1 percent commuter tax on 620,000 suburbanities who earn their paychecks in Chicago, a broadening of the sales tax to include services and a land-based casino that has been on the city’s wish list for 25 years.

But unlike Emanuel, who favors a mix of reform and revenue, Fioretti does not support either increased employee contributions or reductions in employee benefits.

Fioretti’s agenda also includes: an elected school board; a $15-an-hour minimum wage; paid sick leave; reopening the mental health clinics that Emanuel closed and hiring at least 500 additional police officers.

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