Missed anything this week in Chicago politics? We have you covered with our weekly digest of the best game in town.
The week started out with an air of anticipation for the first mayoral debate among all four leading candidates in the race. WTTW’s Chicago Tonight and the Mikva Challenge teamed up for an education-themed affair (watch the whole thing here). But the event went by without a spark - consisting mainly of standard campaign fare from the candidates. The same day, the Rainbow Push Coalition hosted a more informal candidate’s forum, which Rahm Emanuel sat out. In fact, as Progress Illinois notes, Emanuel so far has declined to participate in such forums. Emanuel says he’s been spending his time meeting with plenty of Chicagoans one-on-one instead.
And of course, Emanuel’s absence from forums hasn’t kept him out of the news. His campaign dominated headlines on Tuesday, when Bill Clinton dropped by to lend his support. Carol Moseley Braun responded by branding Clinton “an outsider parachuting in to support another outsider.”
And speaking of that “outsider” label, lawyers were in appellate court this week on the issue of Emanuel’s residency — no ruling yet on that, but it should come soon.
The challenge isn’t fazing Emanuel or his supporters—a new Tribune poll shows the candidate with 44% support in the race so far. Braun is coming in second with 21 percent. Emanuel also came away with the lead in a poll of local Teamsters.
Emanuel is also far ahead when it comes to fundraising—finance reports covering the campaigns’ money input through December 31st came in this week. Emanuel’s raked in about $12 million, with Chico the closest follower at $2.5 million.
But aside from the horse race, we also learned a bit more about what candidates think on the issues. Emanuel says he would cut most sales taxes in the city, but raise them on “luxury services” like private club memberships and limo rentals.
And all six candidates gave written responses to a questionnaire on education and one on environmental issues. Gery Chico also announced his own environmental platform.
Endorsements big and small
Chico’s stance on pension reform helped raise his candidacy above Emanuel’s in the eyes of the Fraternal Order of Police, who endorsed him earlier this week. But Emanuel does have comedian Andy Samberg on his side; Samberg is headlining a fundraising event tonight for the candidate. Carol Moseley Braun also pulled in a significant endorsement this week from the National Organization for Women. The mayor’s race seems to be generating so much interest that it’s boosting the voter rolls. But the race for city treasurer will be considerably less exciting, as it’s now down to just one candidate: incumbent Stephanie Neely.
Seeya, City Hall!
Now what’s Mayor Daley going to do when one of these candidates take over in May? Maybe write a book or teach a class, he tells the Sun-Times. 47th ward alderman Gene Schulter, on the other hand, is leaving City Council for another political position—he’s looking for an appointment to the Cook County Board of Review. Also leaving city business behind is Lois Weisberg, who resigned from her longtime position as Chicago’s cultural affairs guru – she talked to Jim DeRogatis at length about her decision.
Cook County news
Another resignation this week came from the Cook County ethics chair. John Pikarski Jr. left his unpaid post after a report revealed his ties to Assessor Joe Berrios, though Pikarski says the report and his resignation are unrelated. Berrios also was a background figure in a proposal to ban the hiring of family members to county business. (Berrios famously hired two relatives after taking office last year.)
Meanwhile, Board President Toni Preckwinkle hired former city comptroller Tariq Malhance to serve as her top financial aide. As she introduced him, she warned other county leaders (especially Sheriff Tom Dart and State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez) that if they don’t cut their budgets, she will.
Illinois and beyond
After last week’s tax hike, Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard took out an ad in some Illinois papers Indy ad suggesting business leaders head east for more favorable conditions. Despite the rancor over the tax hike, Governor Pat Quinn was chosen by other governors to head the Midwest Governor’s Association.
And forget Indianapolis: President Obama is bringing his 2012 campaign headquarters to Chicago. Meanwhile, his approval rating is at its highest since last April. Still, the Republican-led U.S. House voted to repeal last year’s health care bill, even though the Senate won’t take up the repeal—Greg Hinz has a rundown how some local congressmen stand on the issue. And despite their disagreements, Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk say they’ll sit together for next week’s State of the Union Address.
And that’s the week in politics—let me know if you think I missed anything!