Retiring Ald. Mike Zalewski (23rd) advised Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday to cut a deal with Jesus “Chuy” Garcia to install Garcia’s protégé, Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd), as chairman of the City Council’s Aviation Committee in exchange for Garcia’s endorsement of Emanuel’s 2019 re-election bid.
“The fact that Chuy is now going to go to Congress is obviously something that is probably gonna stop him from running for mayor [again]. If the mayor and the congressman-elect can get together, it’s gonna help both of them,” Zalewski said Tuesday.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s happening as we speak. … They’re both good politicians. The guy on the fifth floor is a master politician. I’m sure they’ll get it figured out.”
But Garcia said he has had no conversations — either with Emanuel or anyone close to the mayor — about the possibility of installing Munoz as Aviation chairman in exchange for a Garcia endorsement of Emanuel.
“That would be uncharacteristic of why I endorse people running for office. I’m not a quid-pro-quo type of politician. Never have been. I am a progressive, movement-centered politician. That’s how I make my decisions,” Garcia said.
Pressed on whether he could endorse Emanuel for re-election, Garcia said: “I don’t see such a scenario right now. … I have a couple of friends/allies who are in the race already. There may be others getting into the race. It’s too early to say what I will do.”
Garcia not only won the Democratic primary in the 4th Congressional District after being anointed by retiring U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez. He showed he had coattails by carrying his entire progressive slate to victory with him.
“I’m sure the mayor recognizes that,” Zalewski said.
“The harsh 2015 election is over now. A different tone has been set now that Chuy is going to the Congress. Leaders of the party can meet. … Compromise is always good.”
Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), Emanuel’s City Council floor leader, did not rule out the possibility of the mayor cutting a deal with the man he beat in the 2015 mayoral run-off.
“Jesus Garcia is going on to a position in Congress. We rely on our congressional delegation a great deal. And they, too, have to work for the city because their constituents want them to work well with the city,” O’Connor said.
“It would be an appropriate thing for them to work out a working arrangement where they could support one another in their efforts to help their common constituents. So, to the extent that could be arrived at, it would be a great deal. If this [Aviation chairmanship] were the occasion, it would certainly be worth trying to work out.”
Munoz is a 25-year veteran who has never chaired a committee, even though he ranks fourth in City Council seniority. He could not be reached for comment.
Also on Tuesday, Zalewski recommended that Emanuel appoint veteran State Rep. Silvana Tabares (D-Chicago) of Garfield Ridge to become the new 23rd Ward alderman.
The two “have worked on a number of issues together. The biggest one being neighborhood stability,” Zalewski said. “She clearly understands what’s important to the people of the 23rd ward. That’s safety. That’s cleanliness. That’s a good business environment. We’ve worked together on new school development out there. There’s no question in my mind she has got her priorities straight.”
The appointment of a prominent Hispanic woman would also help state House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) with the “Me,Too” scandal swirling around his 13th Ward Regular Democratic Organization.
Tabares is a close ally of Madigan’s. She’s the state central committeewoman in the 3rd Congressional District, where Madigan is the state central committeeman.
Tabares’ election to the party leadership post — which gives her a vote on Madigan remaining as chairman of the state Democratic Party — was a top priority of the powerful House speaker in last month’s primary. Tabares’ name was above Madigan’s on the yard signs that blanketed the 13th Ward before the primary.
All of that has led some political observers to conclude that Zalewski’s resignation, effective May 31, may have been part of another Chicago-style backroom deal.
“That’s what some people are saying. That’s not exactly what happened. But, I don’t think there’s gonna be a way to have people not believe that. That’s fine,” Zalewski said.
“I consider myself a close ally of Speaker Madigan for sure. But the truth is, we really didn’t sit down months ago and talk about this. A lot of this was talked about once I made my decision to leave.”