Corned beef and campaigns is the special at Manny’s, South Loop deli where sometimes it’s not just lunch

Politics is often on the menu at the venerated 78-year-old Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen. Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill there, President-elect Barack Obama stopped for his first post-election slice of pie and then Cook County State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley ate a corned beef sandwich before beginning his record run as mayor.

SHARE Corned beef and campaigns is the special at Manny’s, South Loop deli where sometimes it’s not just lunch
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Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

If you’re planning on tucking into a corned beef sandwich or a bagel and lox at Manny’s over the next week or so, save room for a side order of Chicago politics

Less than a week out from the March 17 primary, candidates for Cook County state’s attorney were already bumping into one another at the South Loop cafeteria and delicatessen, a mainstay on the campaign trail.

At his second campaign stop Tuesday, former prosecutor Bill Conway showed up for lunch and to rub elbows with would-be voters, in some cases literally.

He opted for the corned beef sandwich.

“Do as the Romans do, right?” Conway, explained while in line.

His wife, Brittany handled the ordering duties as the former prosecutor played the doting dad, bouncing their three-and-a-half-month-old daughter, Bella, in his arms.

Cook County State’s Attorney candidate Bill Conway greets voters with wife, Brittany, and daughter Bella at Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen, Tuesday afternoon.

Cook County State’s Attorney candidate Bill Conway greets voters with wife, Brittany, and daughter Bella at Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen, Tuesday afternoon.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

But Conway barely got to enjoy his nosh before former 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti, a rival for the office, appeared, passing out his own campaign leaflets and taking a seat across the aisle from Conway and Co. with his matzo ball soup.

And minutes later, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza showed up, talking about her endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden in the presidential primary.

Dan Raskin, Manny’s fourth-generation owner-operator, said he thinks politicians flock to the establishment because it offers a “broad group of customers, it’s a place where you can see every type of person.”

Cook County State’s Attorney candidate Bob Fioretti greets voters at Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen, Tuesday afternoon.

Cook County State’s Attorney candidate Bob Fioretti greets voters at Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen, Tuesday afternoon.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

“It’s not just people who work in an office downtown, it’s a mix of all types of people — but people also come for the food,” Raskin said. “We have all different age groups and it’s a meeting point for a lot of people. People from everywhere come in here.”

And politics is often on the menu at the venerated 78-year-old Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen.

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill there, President-elect Barack Obama stopped for his first post-election slice of pie and then Cook County State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley ate a corned beef sandwich before beginning his record run as mayor.

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Getty AFP/Getty Images

For Manny’s customers all that means both photo ops with pols and fresh topics to hash out over lunch.

David Arthur and his daughter Kristin Fanella found themselves Tuesday at a “divided table.”

Fanella, a lawyer, already voted for Foxx. Dad wouldn’t say who he voted for, but it wasn’t the first-term county prosecutor.

“Kim Foxx has a lot of assistant state’s attorneys who have a lot of compassion for clients with mental illness or drug issues, so we can work on alternative treatment instead of incarceration,” Fanella said.

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza hugs Dan Raskin

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza hugs Dan Raskin, owner of Manny’s Cafeteria and Delicatessen, where she stopped for lunch and to discuss her endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden in the presidential primary

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

A few seats away, Jesse Ruben Juarez, a First Ward resident, said he’d vote for Conway because he wants “something fresh.”

“Kim Foxx isn’t strong enough on crime,” Juarez said. “We’ve lived our whole lives in Wicker Park, and it doesn’t feel as safe as it used to.”

Then Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama, right, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley do lunch at Manny’s in 2004.

Then Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama, right, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley do lunch at Manny’s in 2004.

M. Spencer Green/AP File

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