Emanuel versus Lewis shifts up a gear

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The not-yet-formally-announced mayoral campaign of Karen Lewis is taking shape.

After registering a campaign committee in late August and this month loaning it $40,000 of her own money, Chicago Teachers Union boss Karen Lewis has now put a long-time political activist in charge.

The head of that exploratory committee is Jhatayn “Jay” Travis. If that name sounds familiar it’s because Travis recently lost a very hard-fought race for state representative on the South Side against incumbent Rep. Christian Mitchell.

Mitchell had the backing of Obama guru David Axelrod, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and, oh yes, Rahm Emanuel.

Travis had the endorsement of Lewis and the Chicago Teachers Union. And the battle was fought in Lewis’ home ward of Hyde Park.

So, I asked Travis by phone on Friday, does that defeat give you second thoughts about this race?

“Not at all,” said Travis emphatically. “We already have 500 volunteers.”

I had another question.

Who commissioned an expensive poll asking detailed questions about an Emanuel-Lewis matchup recently?

“I’ll have to check,” replied Travis.

“We don’t comment on internal strategies,” said Steve Mayberry, communications director for the Emanuel re-election campaign.

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