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Aldermen testing the water before taking the plunge with Rahm

When Mayor Rahm Emanuel officially launched his re-election campaign at a West Side film studio last weekend, fewer than one-third of Chicago aldermen were on hand to show their support.

“Don’t read too much into that,” cautioned Ald. Joe Moore (49th), who was one of the 14 counted in attendance.

OK, that’s a fair point. As Moore notes, aldermen have plenty of other stuff on their plates this time of year, what with their own re-election campaigns and all.

Plus, none of the aldermen was included in Emanuel’s program or given an on-stage role, so attendance was mostly just for show.

OPINION

Still, I can tell you Chicago aldermen aren’t usually so shy about basking in the glow of a powerful, incumbent mayor at re-election time, especially when he has a bundle of campaign dough available for loyal backers.

The obvious explanation is that Emanuel’s glow isn’t quite what he would have preferred it to be less than three months from the election, and many aldermen are choosing to proceed cautiously until they’re absolutely sure which way the political winds are blowing.

The aldermen spotted cheering on Emanuel on Saturday were Michelle Harris (8th), Edward M. Burke (14th), Latasha Thomas (17th), Lona Lane (18th), Danny Solis (25th), Roberto Maldonado (26th), Walter Burnett (27th), Jason Ervin (28th), Deborah Graham (29th), Ariel Reboyras (30th), Ray Suarez (31st), Carrie Austin (34th), Ameya Pawar (47th) and Moore.

The turnout showed a mix from all parts of the city, which would have been most important for Emanuel. It also included white, African-American and Hispanic aldermen.

Emanuel campaign spokesman Steve Mayberry indicated the mayor wasn’t too concerned about the no shows.

“I can confirm that the vast majority of aldermen support the Mayor’s re-election,” Mayberry said. “While some have already announced or confirmed their support publicly, not all have done so, and we will, of course, give them the courtesy of making those announcements on their own timetable.”

For that reason, Mayberry declined to give me a comprehensive list of Emanuel’s aldermanic backers, although most show their hand on every City Council roll call.

It’s not as if I believe there are bunches of aldermen secretly lining up their ward organization behind either of Emanuel’s main two challengers, Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) or Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

I’m sure some aldermen are whispering sweet-nothings to both of them, but if many actually chose to go public, that would be a shocker.

More likely is that many will remain publicly neutral in the mayor’s race.

Most aldermen actually poll better in their wards than the mayor, I’m told, so there’s not a lot to be gained politically from backing Emanuel — other than campaign cash and his gratitude.

“Rahm needs their endorsement more than they need him,” said one Democratic source.

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