Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety, said Monday he believes he has earned Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s support — even in an aldermanic race against the daughter of another mayoral ally: retiring U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez.
Hours before Jessica Washington Gutierrez formally declared her candidacy, Reboyras was asked about the heavy lifting he has done for the mayor on the volatile issue of police reform and whether he expects that loyalty to be a two-way street.
“I have not had that discussion. But, I would hope so,” Reboyras said.
Some political observers have argued that Reboyras’ biggest liability is that he is viewed as too close to Emanuel.
The veteran alderman laughed when asked whether he might be better off without the mayor’s endorsement, even though it would be great to have Emanuel’s financial support.
“I’ll let the community make that decision when it comes to re-election,” he said.
Reboyras, 64, said he is giving no thought to political retirement, even though he has already earned a generous pension after 15 years in the Council and a long tenure before that in the city’s now-defunct Department of General Services.
“I have a lot of work ahead of me … and I want to concentrate on what I’m doing for the Fraternal Order of Police in making sure their job does not become more difficult than it is today,” Reboyras said.
He was apparently referring to demands by police reformers and the City Council’s Black Caucus to change a police contract that, the mayor’s Task Force on Police Accountability has said, “turns the code of silence into official policy.”
Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), the mayor’s City Council floor leader, acknowledged that an aldermanic campaign by Jessica Washington Gutierrez places Emanuel in a “tough spot.”
It forces the mayor to choose between the daughter of a popular Hispanic politician who co-chaired the mayor’s 2015 re-election campaign and a loyal City Council ally.
“I would like to think that loyalty begets loyalty. You’d like to think that would be the case. But, I’m not sure,” O’Connor said, when asked whether he expects Emanuel to stick with Reboyras.
“Congressman Gutierrez has [also] been supportive of the mayor. Both could try and make a case that they’ve both been loyal. It’s kind of a tough position to put the guy [Emanuel] in.”
O’Connor said he has no idea whether Luis Gutierrez would understand Emanuel’s decision to back Reboyras. Nor does O’Connor know whether Gutierrez would hold it against Emanuel to the point where he considers remaining neutral or backing someone else in the crowded 2019 race for mayor.
“Both of them are seasoned political people. They understand what the jobs require and they’ll make decisions based upon those interests,” O’Connor said.
Top mayoral aides have wondered aloud whether an aldermanic campaign by Jessica Washington Gutierrez might be “another piece” of the 11th-hour deal that saw Luis Gutierrez announce his retirement days before the filing deadline and throw his support to now-Democratic Congressional nominee Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
Garcia has denied that.
He told the Sun-Times last week that he has “known Jessica since she was a baby,” considers her a “great young lady” and “has heard” that she’s considering a race for a City Council seat.
But, Garcia said: “There were no deals on who to support for what office then or thereafter.”
Referring to Luis Gutierrez, Garcia said: “He did not make any commitments to support any of the candidates I supported in the last round. … He did endorse them, but they were not discussed when I made the decision to run for Congress. Similarly, we did not discuss races for the City Council.”
During Emanuel’s days as White House chief of staff, Luis Gutierrez accused Emanuel of standing in the way of immigration reform and being singularly responsible for President Barack Obama’s failure to deliver on his campaign promise to Hispanics.
Gutierrez retaliated by endorsing mayoral candidate Gery Chico over Emanuel.
Four years later, Gutierrez co-chaired Emanuel’s re-election campaign, thanks, in large part, to the mayor’s decision to join Gutierrez as a champion of immigration reform.
Emanuel desperately needs the popular Gutierrez to be in his corner again to stand any chance of persuading Chicagoans to give him a third chance.
Reboyras is about to embark on yet another round of public hearings across the city — and take even more political heat — on the volatile issue of police reform.
This time, the goal will be to craft a politically palatable plan for civilian police review from among four pending proposals.