Declaring that he will “probably never” run for mayor himself, Chance the Rapper on Tuesday endorsed Amara Enyia in the crowded race to replace Mayor Rahm Emanuel and promised a “massive” voter registration drive to get her elected.
“I’d like to say very narcissistically, if I back you, you have a chance — absolutely,” the Grammy-winning hip-hop artist told a jam-packed City Hall news conference.
“I want to work with somebody that’s about change. Somebody that’s about our community . . . Somebody that’s about fairness. And the one person in my research of this wide-open race [whose] views align with me would obviously be candidate Amara Enyia.”
To the cheers of his supporters, Chance flatly declared, “You are looking at the future mayor of Chicago.”
Enyia said the announcement is “just the beginning” and “not your typical, flash-in-the-pan endorsement.”
She promised a “massive” voter education and registration drive that will energize millennial voters who took to the streets to demand justice for Laquan McDonald.
“Chicago can only be a great city if more than 30 percent of eligible voters are registered and participating in our elections,” she said.
“Our campaign has the energy. It has the excitement. And it has the commitment to engage, inspire and galvanize Chicagoans.”
Asked if he would also contribute to Enyia’s underfunded campaign, Chance said it was a possibility.
“I haven’t yet, but we’ll see. I got a lot of money, so it would be scary,” he said.
If this music thing doesn’t work out, Chance may well have a future in sales, marketing and promotion.
After teasing his 8 million Twitter followers on Monday about running for mayor himself, the rapper appeared before a phalanx of cameras to end all suspense.
“I’m proud to announce that I will not be running for mayor . . . I probably won’t ever be running for mayor of this city. But I believe that me and Amara share a vision on what Chicago could be. We believe in supporting the people at the bottom economically — people who have just been written off.”
The Enyia endorsement puts Chance at odds with his father.
The former Emanuel aide is supporting Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in the race.
When Chance was asked Tuesday why he didn’t endorse Preckwinkle, he was careful not to trash his father’s candidate.
“Are you asking me why I didn’t side with my dad? Like I said first, Amara is the most qualified candidate,” he said.
“At the end of the day, I’m always gonna love my dad. I’m gonna always rock with my dad. But that has nothing to do with what I see as the future of Chicago.”
In a statement, Ken Bennett, who now holds a top job at the tourism agency known as Choose Chicago, reaffirmed his support for Preckwinkle and his unshakable love of and pride in his son.
“We may have different views on this race, but we share an unshakable love for each other and this city,” Ken Bennett said.
On Tuesday, Preckwinkle tried to mitigate the impact of the Chance endorsement — by flattering both father and son.
“I’m grateful to be among those whom have benefitted from Ken’s incomparable experience and unfailing commitment,” Preckwinkle was quoted as saying in a statement.
“I respect his son’s commitment to our city, his eagerness to engage in the issues impacting our communities and his willingness to use his platform to express his opinion.”
Chance’s endorsement is not his first brush with Chicago politics.
The rapper’s charity has raised millions for the Chicago Public Schools. He has tried to shame Gov. Bruce Rauner on education funding. And he has denounced Emanuel’s $95 million plan to build a new police and fire training academy as a symbol of the mayor’s misplaced priorities.
The question now is what impact, if any, will Chance’s endorsement have on the crowded race for mayor?
Will his celebrity power motivate his millennial followers, notorious for their political indifference?
Or will Enyia languish in the crowded field, while Chance walks away with even more feel-good publicity.
“It’s definitely gonna give [Enyia’s] candidacy some viability. But I wouldn’t put her in the top-tier of candidates,” said one Democratic strategist unaffiliated with any mayoral candidate.
“If anybody gets hurt by it, it’s Preckwinkle. She already had generational issues. This is going to complicate those problems. Now, she has one more African-American candidate to worry about who will have a following among young voters.”