Will aldermen pay the price for Rahm?

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It’s increasingly clear that in the upcoming municipal elections, everyone will be running against Mayor Emanuel in one way or another.

Some, of course, will be challenging the mayor directly. On Friday Alderman Robert Fioretti sent an e-mail to supporters that was so cryptic it was quite clear. “We will have some big news on September 13th and I hope you can join us,” Fioretti wrote.

If he follows through, Fioretti would be the first sitting elected official to announce a challenge to Mayor Emanuel. Meanwhile, Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis has put $40,000 of her own money into her campaign fund. While that’s not self-love on the level of Bruce Rauner, it’s yet another sign that she’s also preparing to take on the mayor.

But given Emanuel’s unpopularity—he’s got roughly the same approval ratings as The Expendables 3—his performance is also likely to be an issue for sitting aldermen, who are preparing to explain how they’ve spent the last three years in the mayor’s company.

This is especially the case in black and Hispanic areas that have borne the brunt of the mayor’s closings and cuts. And if Lewis, Fioretti, or other mayoral candidates inspire pissed-off people to get to the polls—which hasn’t happened in big numbers since the 1980s—lots of aldermen could be in trouble.

“His political game has not endeared him to the community,” Howard Brookins Jr., the 21st Ward alderman and chairman of the black caucus, says of Emanuel.

Brookins was being polite. Only about one in four black voters approved of the mayor’s performance in a recent Tribune poll.

Like most of his colleagues, Brookins has voted with the mayor the vast majority of the time. He argues that Emanuel’s fundamental flaw isn’t anything he’s actually done.


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