Former top cop Garry McCarthy is raising more than eyebrows again in what appears to be growing speculation he will run for mayor of Chicago.

• Translation: He’s raising money.

Sneed has learned primo political fundraiser Lori Montana, a highly respected Republican operative and former head of the Illinois state lottery under former Gov. Jim Edgar — and subsequent lottery advisor — has been hired to raise money for McCarthy’s bid for mayoral office if he decides to green light a campaign after the first of the year.

“I can verify she (Montana) has been hired to raise money for a campaign to elect McCarthy and she is already doing so,” said a source this/close to Montana.

“She was hired at least several weeks ago.”

Montana, who has raised funds for numerous Republican campaigns, is also a member of the non-profit Executive Mansion Board — which was created by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s and wife, Diana, to repair the aging brick pile known as the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield without the use of taxpayer’s funds.

Stay tuned.

The loaf’s the thing . . . 

Fork it!

Romantic crooner Barry Manilow, who wandered out of the blistering cold into the confines of Harry Caray’s 7th Inning Stretch at Water Tower Place Wednesday, ordered up a plate of turkey meatloaf and took photos with fans before patting Harry’s head and heading out the door to shop on the Magnificent Mile.

The Quinn bin . . . 

He’s tent bent.

• Translation: Former Gov. Pat Quinn, a populist who has set his sights on a bid for Illinois attorney general, is pitching a tent on his birthday this month.

Well, sort of.

• Translation: Quinn plans to join the “sleepover”  at the 5th Annual “Homeless Vets Sleep Out” on Dec. 16 at Sculpture Park at 11th Street and Wabash Avenue hosted by the Columbia College student vets.

“I’m not bringing a sleeping bag,” Quinn told Sneed. “So I guess I’ll just lean up against a pole, drink coffee and chat with my vet friend Cam Dupre, a Columbia College student whom I met while he was serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

• The reason: “Well, 16% of Chicago’s 5,657 homeless are vets,” said Quinn.

• The rationale: “Abraham Lincoln said all of us need to take care of those of us who have borne the battle,” said Quinn. “These are our neighbors and heroes, so I’m hoping a lot of folks will join us in braving the elements.”

The Daley suite . . . 

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley and his family, including daughter Nora and 28 family members and friends, were in attendance at the opening night of Christopher Wheeldon’s acclaimed Joffrey Ballet production of The Nutcracker — which is set in Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair.

• Why? Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Joffrey’s Executive Director Greg Cameron dedicated the performance to “Mayor Daley and his late wife, Maggie, for their deep commitment to the company and their legacy in the arts,” said Cameron.


Sneedlings . . . 

Hope floats! Operation Hope — a holiday outreach to provide free dinners to elders, adults, children and families of the community — takes place Dec. 12 from 3- 7 p.m. at BJ’s Market & Bakery at 79th and Racine. Sponsors for the event include: Faith Community of Saint Sabina, Andrea and Bill Zopp, Johnson Publishing Company, Linda Johnson Rice, and Desiree Rogers. . . . Today’s birthdays: Nicki Minaj, 35; Sam Hunt, 33; and Dwight Howard, 32.