Four years after finishing fourth out of five mayoral candidates, former Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) on Friday jumped into the way more crowded race to replace Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Fioretti updated the Friends of Bob Fioretti campaign committee he used to challenge County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in the Democratic primary and turned it into a mayoral campaign committee.
Contacted late Friday, Fioretti said he’s been “looking at” running for mayor again for months and finally decided to take the plunge.
“All I’m hearing is the same old, same old. Same people. Same establishment candidates with the same approach to the same problems. We need solutions we can deal with here,” he said.
Fioretti was asked how he can possibly gather the 12,500 signatures he needs by the Nov. 26 filing deadline –– and three times that many if he hopes to have cushion enough to survive a petition challenge.
“I hope to have 30,000 to file,” he said. “We’ve got some [already], but I don’t have an accurate count.”
As a candidate for mayor in 2015 and as an alderman before that, Fioretti was Emanuel’s most outspoken critic.
He had accused Emanuel of engaging in pay-to-play politics, pointing to the $32 million that Emanuel had raised since 2010 and the nexus between the mayor’s official actions and public appearances on behalf of his most generous donors.
But after finishing fourth with 7.4 percent of the vote in Round One, Fioretti endorsed Emanuel in the run-off against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
Fioretti’s about-face was so abrupt, critics accused him of selling out in exchange for a pledge from Emanuel to help retire Fioretti’s $200,000 campaign debt.
At the time, Emanuel acknowledged that he had agreed to help make Fioretti whole, as he did four years earlier with vanquished challengers Carol Mosely-Braun and Gery Chico. But Emanuel denied there was any quid pro quo.
Fioretti said then he endorsed Emanuel not because of his debt, but because he firmly believed the mayor was better equipped and had a more realistic plan to solve Chicago’s pension crisis.
A perennial candidate, Fioretti tried again in March to unseat Preckwinkle as Cook County Board president.
With very little money, he managed to get 40 percent of the vote and a sizable protest vote against Preckwinkle by highlighting the repeal of her tax on sugary soft drinks.
Fioretti managed to get at least one-third of the vote and up to 40 percent of the vote in African-American wards that should have been a cornerstone of Preckwinkle’s political base.
Preckwinkle will now face off against Fioretti again in the crowded race for mayor.
But only if his late start doesn’t preclude him from getting on the ballot.