Former mayoral challenger Bob Fioretti, who has battled tonsil cancer, has been hospitalized since Tuesday after complaining of flu-like symptoms and a 102-degree fever, a top aide disclosed Thursday.
Fioretti checked into Northwestern Memorial Hospital two days after putting aside past differences with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and endorsing Emanuel over Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in Tuesday’s first-ever mayoral runoff.
As a candidate for mayor and as an alderman, Fioretti had been Emanuel’s most outspoken critic. He had accused Emanuel of engaging in pay-to-play politics, pointing to the $32 million that Emanuel has raised since 2010 and the nexus between the mayor’s official actions and public appearances on behalf of his most generous donors.
Fioretti’s about-face was so abrupt, critics accused him of selling out in exchange for a pledge from Emanuel to help retire Fioretti’s $200,000 in campaign debt.
The mayor acknowledged that he agreed to help make Fioretti whole, as he did four years ago with vanquished challengers Carol Moseley-Braun and Gery Chico. But Emanuel denied there was any quid pro quo.
Fioretti said he endorsed Emanuel — not because of his debt, but because he firmly believes the mayor is better equipped and has a more realistic plan to solve Chicago’s $20 billion pension crisis than Garcia.
Fioretti finished fourth on Feb. 24 with just over seven percent of the vote. On the night before Round One, he had pledged his support to Garcia citing his many differences with Emanuel on issues ranging from his demand that the city hire 500 additional police officers to his call for a financial transaction tax and commuter tax and his plan to a oppose red-light cameras.
The retiring alderman’s illness and hospitalization was disclosed Thursday in a statement issued by his political consultant Michael Kolenc.
“On Tuesday, March 31, Bob Fioretti went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital complaining of flu-like symptoms and a 102 fever. Since Tuesday, he has undergone tests and blood work and has remained overnight for observation,” Kolenc wrote in an emailed statement.
“He will remain at Northwestern for continued observation until he is released by his doctor and is expected to make a full recovery. I would like to request privacy for Bob and we will let you know when new information about his health is available.”