By finally taking herself out of the 2015 mayoral discussion Tuesday, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle took some of the pressure off Mayor Rahm Emanuel but also paved the way for Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis to take center stage as the most viable alternative to his re-election.
With all signs now pointing toward Lewis entering the race, it only made sense for Preckwinkle to end the speculation about her own plans, which had been re-fueled by two new polls showing she could defeat Emanuel.
The results of an Early & Often poll released Sunday suggest Lewis could beat Emanuel as well, if the election were held today, which fortunately for the mayor, is not the case.
He’s got seven months to rehabilitate his image with the voters of Chicago, and it probably helps him for Lewis to come to the front of the pack now so the public can focus on their differences, as well as her shortcomings, instead of only his.
It definitely makes the task ahead easier for him without Preckwinkle in the race, although he has been saying for months now that she has assured him she would not run.
Just the same, it’s also helpful to Lewis that Preckwinkle is stepping aside because her withdrawal allows those seeking an alternative to Emanuel to enlist in her campaign immediately instead of waiting on the sidelines until after the November elections to see what Preckwinkle would do.
That includes both potential donors and other labor unions whose support Lewis will need to have a real chance.
Loyal readers may recall I wrote back in May that Lewis would NOT run for mayor, based on the belief she understood her ardent advocacy for the teachers union was not compatible with a mayoral campaign, in short, that she was not politic enough to be a politician. That’s not looking like a very smart prediction right now.
While I still harbor concerns along the same lines, it now appears Lewis does not, and I certainly don’t want to say anything to discourage her from giving Chicagoans a real choice in the mayoral election. There will be plenty of time later to sort out who is the better choice.