Sudden focus on Feb. mayoral race could hurt Dems on Nov. 6

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

Since Rahm Emanuel’s bombshell decision to nix a third mayoral run, friends and strangers are all asking: Who’s going to be elected the next mayor of Chicago?

“Who knows?” I reply.

But, I add, there’s another important election around the corner. On Nov. 6, Chicago and Cook County voters go to the polls to elect a governor, state attorney general, comptroller, congressional and state legislative seats, county commissioner and more.

“Oh,” they reply.

OPINION

Chicago political prognosticators, instigators, spectators and voters are already besotted with the Feb. 26 mayoral election.

The election scheduled just six weeks away? Not so much.

Voters could be complacent about November and distracted by February. For Democrats, that’s a dangerous combination.

To ensure victory in statewide and Chicago area races, the Democratic Party needs heavy turnouts in the city and Cook County.

In recent weeks, voters have been hearing a lot about lopsided polls at the top of the Nov. 6 ticket.

Democratic gubernatorial challenger J.B. Pritzker with a 17-point lead over Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, 44 percent to 27 percent, according to a statewide poll of likely voters conducted Sept. 5-13 by the Illinois Broadcasters Association.

Voters are also hearing about the $126 million Pritzker, a billionaire businessman, has given to his campaign and other Democratic candidates. And voters are turned off by the incessant campaign commercials.

Pritzker has bagged this race, they might conclude. Why bother to vote?

Dangerous. “You can never get complacent because a loss is always around the corner,” tennis champion Venus Williams once said.

Meanwhile all eyes are on the Chicago’s 2019 mayoral extravaganza.

The citywide mayoral and aldermanic elections will be the most competitive race in decades.

Seventeen people have already declared for mayor, with surely more to come.

That’s 17 mayoral hopefuls dispatching hundreds of operatives and volunteers, slinging petitions, building social media buzz, scheduling endless coffees, fund-raisers and rallies.

And another load of competitive aldermanic contests is in the mix. For example, there are at least 11 people running in the 47th Ward, reports The Daily Line.

It all adds up to a distracting, energy-sucking diversion from November.

The Democratic Party already has a lot of balls in the air, with competitive races up and down the ballot.

In Cook County, the person leading the charge to elect Democrats to those seats is the main attraction. Or, a distraction.

As chair of the Cook County Democratic Party, Toni Preckwinkle oversees a million-dollar-plus effort to get Democrats to the polls on Nov. 6.

Preckwinkle is also on the Nov 6 ballot for re-election as Cook County Board president.

Last week, Preckwinkle announced her own high-profile, full-steam-ahead mayoral bid.

She’s got one eye on dozens of other campaigns, another on two of her own. Preckwinkle is wearing so many hats she could start a millinery.

Could it be one too many?

Email: LauraSWashington@aol.com

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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