The $3.6 million super PAC created to re-elect Mayor Rahm Emanuel and strengthen his City Council majority is unleashing its second commercial of the runoff campaign, this time to convince Chicago voters they “can’t afford Chuy Garcia.”
Chicago Forward has purchased $600,000 in television time to air a 30-second commercial starring a retired black police sergeant.
Milton Dixon is shown seated at his kitchen table with his hand on a coffee mug and a newspaper in front of him. A few feet away is a television set showing Garcia talking while the words at the bottom of the screen say, “Largest property tax increase in Chicago.”
“It makes it a lot harder when you see politicians like Chuy Garcia. He’s been too quick to raise taxes: property taxes, parking taxes,” Dixon is quoted as saying.
“He makes all of these big promises costing us billions of dollars. Which means more property taxes or devastating cuts to city services — like police.”
The camera then pans to a shot of Dixon walking slowly down a neighborhood street as the retired sergeant’s voice delivers the final blow.
“When I see Chuy Garcia, I say, `Hold on to your wallets. This guy wants more taxes. We just can’t afford that,’ ” Dixon is quoted as saying.
The commercial closes with the words, “We can’t afford Chuy Garcia.”
The irony of the super PAC spot is the fact that it is Emanuel who has alienated many retired city workers by phasing out the city’s 55 percent subsidy for retiree health care.
The mayor has further infuriated retirees with his plan to raise employee contributions by 29 percent and reduce employee benefits to save two of four city employee pension funds and his threat to do the same to put the police and fire pension funds on solid footing.
Still, Dixon turns his anger on Garcia, who has promised to deliver on Emanuel’s broken promise to hire 1,000 additional police officers.
Becky Carroll, the longtime mayoral ally now serving as chairman and CEO of “Chicago Forward,” was asked how she defends that line of attack.
“Mayor Emanuel has fought to ensure that everyone has a retirement check to rely on,” Carroll said.
“Milton, like most Chicagoans, wants a mayor willing to make tough decisions in difficult times. What they don’t want is a mayor who makes empty promises and changes his mind as often as the Chicago wind blows.”
Chicago Forward is barred by law from coordinating with the mayor’s re-election campaign. But the decision to feature a black retiree follows the mayor’s lead.
Most of Emanuel’s own commercials have featured African-American elected officials and everyday Chicagoans to boost his support among black voters who put him in office but abandoned him in droves after he closed a record 50 public schools.
The African-American vote is expected to decide the runoff.
Days before the Feb. 24 election, Chicago Forward spent $450,000 to run a 30-second spot that trashed Garcia for casting a 1980s vote for the “biggest property tax increase in city history” and for claiming an “illegal” homeowners exemption on “two houses at the same time to avoid paying over $8,000 in taxes.”
The ad concluded with a kicker: “Chuy Garcia: Out for himself. Not us.”
After Garcia forced Emanuel into a runoff, the super PAC came back with a new commercial with a similar line of attack.
Chicago Forward’s latest ad was in the works before SEIU endorsed Garcia and cut its own commercial trashing Emanuel. But the super PAC’s latest offensive will be a counterpoint to that hard-hitting SEIU commercial.