John Cass, ChicagoTribube
Mayor Scott Waguespack of Chicago. Dig it.
Waguespack, the alderman of the 32nd Ward and reform chairman of the City Council’s multiracial Progressive Caucus, tells me he’s giving serious consideration to a 2019 mayoral campaign
Where could Rahm run for protection?
Others I’ve interviewed who have considered a mayoral run include Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and state Sen. Kwame Raoul, a leader of the Black Caucus in Springfield. Cook County Board President Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle doesn’t like Emanuel, but I don’t think she wants to leave her spot.
City Treasurer Kurt Summers, another African-American, is a distant mayoral possibility, but he’s a Rahm guy, funded by the Rahm guys. Summers would be called into the nonpartisan mayoral race by Rahm to siphon black votes away from a candidate like Waguespack. Chicago politics is all about the arithmetic.
Waguespack noted that others have discussed mayoral campaigns, “but I don’t know if they have the capacity to take on Rahm, who’s very crafty. And to go through the arguments and the battles that will take place.”
“I’ve thought about it to the point where people are asking and pushed and pushed and pushed so maybe it’s time to at least take a look at it,” Waguespack said.
The two main considerations would be finances and his family, he said. He has a wife and two young children. Rahm might not have much of a constituency beyond bond lawyers and that crowd, but through them he can raise oodles of cash.
So is Rahm beatable?
“Yeah, for sure,” Waguespack said on “The Chicago Way.” “It’s going to be tough with the amount of money that he raises and spends. Last time he spent plus $20 million.”
And he wore that soft blue sweater, I said.
“Yeah,” said Waguespack, laughing.
If you’ve forgotten, it was the sweater Rahm wore in his campaign commercial when he promised, in a soft voice, that if elected, he’d be a new Rahm, a gentle, transparent Rahm.
Remember that guy?
“Yeah, and he barely won. So I think he’s beatable,” Waguespack said. “I don’t think he can cover up a lot of the mistakes that he’s made.”
One mistake people make about Rahm Emanuel is thinking that he doesn’t love Chicago, only himself. That’s not quite true. He cares about the city, about the people slaughtered in the gang wars, about the child victims and his inability to stop the carnage. I’ve seen him at funerals when reporters weren’t around. He has a heart. But he has difficulty showing it.
But everybody’s beatable.
Rahm barely squeaked into office in his last election, and he probably would have been blown out if City Hall hadn’t cynically sat on that Laquan McDonald police video showing a white cop shooting the black teenager 16 times.
Sitting on that police video helped Rahm in the short term. He was dragged into a runoff election with the underfunded Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. But if the video had surfaced, Rahm would have lost the black vote and ended up toast.
And when the public realized that City Hall had sat on the video until after Rahm was safe, and paid $5 million in a quick, quiet settlement to the McDonald family, the mayor’s credibility plummeted with all constituency groups. The bond salesmen and lawyers and finance guys like him, but many live in the suburbs. They can lard him with campaign cash, and Rahm could sell himself through commercials and try to ignore a Waguespack challenge.
But not if Chicago mayoral politics became a national story.
There was a push for Waguespack to become mayor years ago, when the reform alderman fought then-Mayor Richard Daley over the parking meter rate hike fiasco that eventually drove Daley into retirement.
But in April 2010, Emanuel, a Daley man and then chief of staff to President Barack Obama, appeared on the “Charlie Rose” show and said he’d like to be mayor. It was as if it were a coincidence. And it was done, a Chicago Way bait and switch, with Obama doing the switching, releasing Rahm and bringing mayoral brother William Daley into the White House as his new chief of staff.
Rahm has weakened. A direct campaign with Waguespack — all about ethics and secret emails and deals — could be disastrous.
And lately, watching the mayor, you get the feeling that Rahm Emanuel isn’t running the city as much as he’s just running for re-election.
“What is the mayor’s vision, what are his goals?” Waguespack asked. “You can’t really define that. Look at him. ‘Where are you going? Where are you taking us? There’s not a lot there.”
Listen to “The Chicago Way” podcast — with John Kass and Jeff Carlin — at www.wgnradio.com/category/wgn-plus/category/thechicagoway.