Mayor Rahm Emanuel has talked about running for re-election, but he has yet to formally declare his candidacy or rev up his legendary fundraising machine.
On Wednesday, the first concrete evidence began to emerge that Emanuel will indeed ask Chicago voters to give him a third chance — even though a formal announcement is not likely to be made until around Memorial Day.
Claudia Chavez, an $80,070-a-year deputy in the mayor’s Office of Legislative Counsel and Government Affairs, has moved from City Hall to the Emanuel campaign to “put a structure in place” that is likely to lead to even more high-level departures from City Hall.
“She’s been in the mayor’s office since 2014 and worked on the 2015 re-elect and a ton of campaigns. She’s phenomenal. The aldermen love her,” said a mayoral confidant, who asked to remain anonymous.
“She’s starting to get the structure in place for the mayor’s re-elect and starting to build the infrastructure for the campaign. . . . There will be others in the coming months. But she’s the right person to get over there and start to do it on a day-to-day basis.”
Emanuel survived Chicago’s first mayoral runoff, but only after spending a record $24 million, four times more than County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a relative political unknown.
The mayor currently has less than $2.1 million in the bank, nowhere near what he would need to fend off possible mayoral challengers Paul Vallas and fired Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.
But the mayoral confidant noted that Emanuel has been “on a fundraising tear of late” that is likely to be reflected in the next quarterly report.
“Once he does everything he needs to do, which he’s in the process of doing, he’ll have plenty of resources — no doubt,” the Emanuel confidant said. “Just about every major race, the caps have gotten broken [allowing candidates to raise money in bigger chunks]. I would not be shocked if that happens in this race again.”
Vallas has said he intends to enter the 2019 race for mayor, so long as he can raise enough money to get his message out, and introduce himself to voters who don’t remember his widely acclaimed tenure at CPS.
McCarthy has set up a website, held a fundraiser and commissioned a poll that will help him decide whether he can wage a winnable race against the mayor who fired him. Former CPS principal Troy LaRaviere has also launched a fundraising website.
The Emanuel adviser dismissed McCarthy, noting that he infuriated black aldermen at Sunday’s fundraiser by suggesting that middle-class blacks have fled Chicago, leaving “trigger-pullers” behind on the South and West Sides.
“Every time he opens up his mouth, he moves further and further away from being electable,” the Emanuel confidant said.
The Emanuel adviser also dismissed Vallas, whom the mayor has branded the “architect of kicking the can down the road” and creating the pension disaster Emanuel inherited.
“What’s he gonna run on — ‘Thanks Chicago for cleaning up the mess that I started. Now, let me back in?’ I don’t think that works,” the Emanuel confidant said.