Mayor Rahm Emanuel sat right down and wrote a letter.
Unlike the song, it wasn’t to himself, but to Gov. Bruce Rauner.
And not only was it not filled with “words oh, so sweet” or “a lot of kisses,” it was a plea for the governor to sign a piece of gun legislation sitting on his desk.
It definitely didn’t knock the governor off his feet.
The mayor tried to hand deliver the missive to Rauner at a joint appearance on Wednesday, but the governor wouldn’t even acknowledge that he received it.
Rauner’s “body man” was holding the letter in a blue folder, and reporters asked if the letter was in the folder.
“I don’t know,” Rauner said. “Why don’t you check?”
The body man, instead, slid away from the microphones. The governor’s office later confirmed the letter was indeed handed to the governor but he hadn’t read it at that moment. Footage taped by TV stations showed Rauner getting the blue folder and letter and glancing at it quickly before handing it to the body man.
With just 13 days until the primary, Emanuel was trying to up the pressure on Rauner, but the governor remained non-committal about whether he would sign the gun dealer licensing bill.
The letter was identical to one the mayor sent to Rauner last week.
As for the legislation, Rauner was sent the bills that would require gun dealers to be licensed by the state last Thursday, but he has 60 days to act. Signing the legislation prior to March 20 could alienate gun supporters — and he faces an ultra-conservative Republican challenger in state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton.
The governor — despite on Wednesday saying he’s been “crystal clear” about his stances on gun control — has largely steered the conversation to dealing with “mental illness.” And he’s also avoided answering specifics about whether he supports an assault weapons ban.
Of the bizarre letter episode, Rauner said he “looked forward to working with the mayor and all of our elected officials on a bipartisan basis to get good changes to keep our people safe.”
Emanuel and Rauner appeared together at the opening of an AT&T call center on the North Side, which will employ 500. And during a tour of the space before a public event, Emanuel told reporters he planned to give Rauner the letter — which he signed along with all Chicago aldermen — urging him to sign the legislation, which would require gun dealers to be licensed. At a press conference last Friday, Emanuel first mentioned the letter and said Rauner’s “silence is deafening – and it’s heard across the state of Illinois.”
“He may obviously not want to make this decision before his primary but he has a responsibility to make this decision on behalf of all of us for the safety and security of the people of the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois,” Emanuel said. “For some reason he decided not to respond to this letter that was sent by all 50 aldermen and myself, but I’m going to make sure he not only gets the letter, he has a responsibility to answer it. Not because it’s politically safe, but because it’s personally safe to everybody here.”
Last October, a “bump stock” device allowed Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock to fire a semi-automatic rifle almost as fast as an automatic weapon, spraying bullets into a crowd of concert-goers with devastating results. Rauner at the time declined to take a position on assault weapons. When asked about “bump stocks,” he said “these issues of individuals with mental illness harming others is a problem that we’ve had forever.”
Rauner on Wednesday said he supports “common sense bipartisan reform,” while vouching support for keeping guns “out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, first and foremost.” He also publicly expressed his support for banning bump stocks.
“I believe we should also come together to find out ways to increase school safety, increase the safety of our students and our teachers in our schools, and the other thing I think we can all agree on is we got to do a better job supporting our police officers, our law enforcement, who put their safety at risk to keep us safer,” Rauner said.
Asked whether primary voters deserve to know his position on the gun-dealer licensing measure, Rauner said he has been “crystal clear” about his gun positions.
“I support bipartisan reforms to keep our citizens safer and we need to do this on a comprehensive basis, real reform that will really change the system, keep our students safer in our schools, ban bump stocks, support law enforcement and do a better job of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.”