Chicago Sun-Times

Bigger field favors Emanuel

- LAURA WASHINGTON lauraswash­ington@ aol. com | @ MediaDervi­sh

Bring ’ em on!

As the candidate announceme­nts for Chicago’s mayoral election roll in, that could be Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s slogan for 2019.

Emanuel looksmore vulnerable than ever in his high- powered political career. He is despised by many, with a record chock full of disasters: His gross mismanagem­ent in the aftermath of the Laquan McDonald police shooting, the city’s high crime rates; his decision to close more than 50 Chicago public schools; and the numerous hikes on city taxes and fees, just for starters.

The challenger­s are lining up, eager to drawmore blood from the politicall­y wounded mayor.

Yes, Emanuel is vulnerable. Yes, his take- no- prisoners, myopic, tonedeaf governing style has alienated voters across the city.

And yes, the more mayoral hopefuls, the better. For Emanuel.

OnMonday, Paul Vallas, the former Chicago Public Schools CEO and city budget director, will file the official paperwork for a run. He joins former Police Supt. Garry McCarthy; businessma­n and philanthro­pist Willie Wilson; Troy LaRaviere, president of the Chicago Principals and Administra­tors Associatio­n; and Neal Sales- Griffin, a tech entreprene­ur.

There are likely more to come. Cook County Commission­er Bridget Gainer, Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, and Ra Joy, an unsuccessf­ul lieutenant governor candidate in the 2018 primary, all are reportedly considerin­g bids.

As in 2015, nearly every city demographi­c will be represente­d. All are banking on forcing the mayor into a runoff. And all will fight for— and divide— the anti- Emanuel vote.

McCarthy and Vallas will compete for disgruntle­d whites on the North and South sides and lakefront.

McCarthy, whom Emanuel fired over the Laquan McDonald case, says he is running as a “conservati­ve Democrat.” He spouts tough law- and- order talk. With black voters, McCarthy will be dead on arrival. He is knee- deep in the McDonald debacle. McCarthy’s recent claim that he is running to “save black lives” was scorned in the ’ hood.

Vallas, banking on his extensive government experience, will appeal to black voters by claiming that he stewarded major school reform during his CPS tenure, in the late 1990s.

That was nearly 20 years ago. Vallas’ tenure in the RichardM. Daley administra­tion is a distant— and suspect— memory.

The African- American hopefuls includeWil­son, whose 2015 mayoral run won him 10 percent of the vote. Chicago needs a successful businessma­n to run the city, he says. ( Votersmigh­t note that spin isn’t working too well for Gov. Bruce Rauner and President Donald J. Trump.)

RememberWi­lson’s 2016 presidenti­al run? ( You missed that one, eh?). Wilson may be destined to become the Tio Hardiman of mayoral politics.

Firebrand LaRaviere is a longtime Emanuel critic. In 2016, his tussle with the mayor got him fired from his job as principal at Blaine Elementary School. That looks like another grudgematc­h, a la McCarthy.

Sales- Griffin offers youthful idealism but is a virtual unknown.

Allmust compete not only against Emanuel but against their own demographi­cs.

Since Harold-Washington was mayor, the city’s different interest groups have never gotten the divide- and- conquer memo. The more of “us” are in, the more “we” split the vote.

Ego, self- interest, hubris and miscalcula­tion will prevent most from unifying around the strongest candidate to get a clear shot at Emanuel.

Curiously, no Latino contender has emerged. In 2015, it was Cook County Commission­er Jesus “Chuy” Garcia who forced Emanuel into a runoff.

Since then, the mayor has aggressive­ly courted the Latino vote, fiercely defending Chicago’s sanctuary city status and excoriatin­g Trump, America’s No. 1 Enemy of immigrants.

Right now, for this mayor, the more, the merrier.

 ?? SUN- TIMES FILES ?? Former schools CEO Paul Vallas is entering the mayoral race.
SUN- TIMES FILES Former schools CEO Paul Vallas is entering the mayoral race.
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