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Monday, 31 March 2014 08:23

New Poll: Rahm Emanuel Would Lose Re-Election to Progressive Opponent

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apreckwinkleA recent poll indicates Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle could defeat Rahm Emanuel for mayor of Chicago.  (Photo: Wikipedia)Although the Chicago Democratic mayoral primary is a little less than a year off (February of 2015), already the polls have begun to test how he would fare against a Democratic opponent. Emanuel is widely viewed by progressives as a corporatist mayor with an anti-union, pro charter schools, privatization, pro-wealth bias.

Paying relatively little attention to neighborhoods in need in a city that is now an international service and financial hub, Emanuel has largely been considered to be invincible for reelection due to his alleged $6 million political war chest -- and his unstinting support from the business community.

Truthout and BuzzFlash are able to confront the forces of greed and regression only because we don’t take corporate funding. Support us in this fight: make a tax-deductible donation today by clicking here!

The first public poll (released last week) indicates that he would lose next year's primary to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.  Preckwinkle is a progressive who would represent the 99% against Emanuel's 1% backing and political viewpoints.  The poll results, for whatever they are worth at this point, conclude that Preckwinkle would win by 40 percent to 32%, with a large undecided vote at this time.

Chicago mainstream media is questioning the credibiity of the poll based on it being conducted by a lesser-known firm -- and the distance in time to the actual race.  Both of these are valid points, and isolated polls -- without others to establish trending -- should be judged with caution.

Furthermore, Preckwinkle is running for re-election as Cook County Board President in November. She has indicated that she wants to (given that her re-election is a lock-in) fill out her next four-year term.

However, as Chicago's ABC television affiliate notes online, Preckwinkle "has not ruled out challenging Emanuel in February 2015."

Indeed, if further polls emerge showing similar results appear, Preckwinkle who formerly was President Barack Obama's alderwoman (fourth ward) might change her mind. 

The challenge for Emanuel in seeking a second term comes down to the reality of Chicago having become a lot like the slogan that Bill de Blasio used in his campaign for mayor of New York: it is a tale of two cities. (The campaign use of the phrase actually originated in Harold Washington's successful insurgent run for mayor of Chicago many years back.)

Emanuel represents the large corporate base downtown and people hauling in the larger salaries, but the rest of the city has lost -- like other rust belt urban communities -- much of its industrial base.  Furthermore, from an ethnic standpoint, Chicago's white population continues to decline.  Resources based on the 2010 US Census generally reveal that whites and black each compose about a 1/3 of the Chicago population, with Latinos at about 30% -- and rising, by all accounts as a percentage of the population.

Preckwinkle, 66, is black and Emanuel, 54, is white.  When Emanuel ran for his first and current term, he faced a large primary field of blacks and Latinos who divided the non-white vote.  If Preckwinkle was the sole primary opponent, it is possible to foresee a very different dynamic in terms of ethnic voting and votes cast by the 99%.

In fact, were Preckwinkle to decide to run -- and face off against Emanuel one-to-one -- it likely would become a populist vs. neoliberal election that would garner the attention of the nation.

Preckwinkle is a former school teacher who believes government serves the interests of the many, not the privileged few.  Emanuel  -- a former political fundraiser, congressman, and White House chief of staff who earned about $17 million for less than two years as a "rainmaker" for an investment firm after he left the Clinton White House -- believes that government is run by an elite that includes the corporate community -- but not community groups -- as full partners.

If Preckwinkle takes on Emanuel's oligarchical rule, the outcome will be determined by whether or not Emanuel's millions in campaign funds can beat back a populist uprising in the city that became most visible with the revolt of the Chicago Teachers Union.

That would be an off-year election that would indicate if the interests of families and neighborhood can beat a mayor who represents the interests of the plutocracy -- a man who was White House chief of staff for Barack Obama.

Truthout and BuzzFlash are able to confront the forces of greed and regression only because we don’t take corporate funding. Support us in this fight: make a tax-deductible donation today by clicking here!

Disclaimer: I know and have worked with Toni Preckwinkle on a number of issues, including fighting payday loan stores and advocating for gun control.

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