In the past decade, Hanah Jubeh quietly has become one of the most influential behind-the-scenes Democratic operatives in Chicago and Illinois politics.
The 40-year-old Southwest Side native and daughter of Palestinian immigrants is best known for her work with organized labor and union-supported candidates. They’ve paid her political consulting company more than $2.64 million in the past nine years, according to state campaign-finance records.
But the increasingly brutal Democratic primary fight for governor has totally severed some of those deep ties between Jubeh and labor leaders.
Her role as chief fundraiser for Chris Kennedy’s campaign is putting Jubeh in direct conflict with longtime colleagues in the labor movement who want J.B. Pritzker to get the Democratic nomination in the March primary.
The tensions between Jubeh and her one-time friends and allies erupted into public view this week. In its newsletter published Tuesday, the Illinois AFL-CIO — which has endorsed Pritzker — took a highly unusual cheap shot at Jubeh.
“Kennedy’s campaign has been plagued with poor fundraising and no-show appearances, which has stalled the campaign,” according to an unsigned, lead article in the Illinois AFL-CIO newsletter. “Hanah Jubeh of P2 Consulting is senior advisor and fundraiser for the Kennedy campaign. Based on past political campaigns, combined with this campaign, many people, especially within the Illinois labor movement, are seriously questioning her abilities to manage statewide campaigns.”
Jubeh told me Thursday that the personal attack on her in the newsletter was “unprecedented,” but it echoed pressure she has faced privately since joining the Kennedy campaign.
She shared an email she received Saturday from Michael Carrigan, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. Carrigan forwarded Jubeh a Pritzker news release highlighting the endorsement his campaign received from the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association.
“Wanted to make sure you saw J.B.’s big news today,” Carrigan wrote to Jubeh. “This, on top of two lousy fundraising quarters for Mr. Kennedy, reflects poorly on your abilities.”
Jubeh says she believes sexism is behind this criticism.
Other Kennedy campaign consultants who are men have worked with labor unions before this race, including Kennedy’s pollster and the guy producing his campaign ads. Unlike Jubeh, the men on the Kennedy campaign have not faced the same sort of attacks from labor.
“Why did [Carrigan] single me out, a female in leadership?” Jubeh says. “He knows he can only bully a female. If I was a guy, this would be a non-issue.
“They’re trying to bully me because they want me out of the campaign,” she adds. “And they want Chris Kennedy to drop out, because they know he’s viable.”
Carrigan didn’t return messages Thursday.
Jubeh is the former political director of the Chicago Federation of Labor and continues to do consulting work for the CFL, the umbrella union group that’s affiliated with the AFL-CIO.
Full disclosure: The CFL is an investor in the Chicago Sun-Times, and its president, Jorge Ramirez, is board chairman of this newspaper’s parent company.
Ramirez didn’t want to comment on the remarks in the AFL-CIO newsletter. Although the CFL is supporting Pritzker for governor, Ramirez vouches for Jubeh.
“Hanah has done good work for us over the past 10 years,” Ramirez says. “I’d be dishonest to tell you otherwise.”
The Kennedy campaign slammed Carrigan for allegedly using “cutting, defamatory words as a way to intimidate a woman.”
“Mike Carrigan’s decision to single-out one female senior member of our campaign team is out of bounds, petty and undemocratic,” campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Evans said. “We call on him to apologize and would hope that the Pritzker campaign urges their surrogate to do the same.”
If Jubeh is as bad at what she does as the AFL-CIO says she is, then the smart thing for Carrigan to do would have been to stay as silent as possible.
Why wouldn’t he want someone whose abilities are allegedly so feeble to continue to play a central role for his guy’s main primary rival?