Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and Mayor Rahm Emanuel | Sun-Times files
Updated: October 16, 2013 4:07PM
The Chicago Teachers’ Union had a firm reaction to news that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has more than $5 million in the bank 16 months before his reelection: “He needs every damn dime,” said Stacy Davis Gates, political legislative director for the Chicago Teachers Union.
She said Emanuel should expect all-out battle in his next campaign.
Davis Gates was reacting to a Chicago Sun-Times report on Friday that showed he was raising money at a frenetic pace — including more than $1.1 million in contributions of $1,000 or more in the month of September alone — more than any of the five gubernatorial candidates who will face voters a year before the mayor does.
“It’s money from out of town. He’s able to channel his old script. They’re not talking to Karen are they? They’re just talking to Rahm,” Davis Gates said. “They’re not talking to people who live in Englewood. They’re just talking to him at a cocktail party where they’re drinking and eating nice food. Those people don’t vote here and they don’t live here.”
John Kupper, the mayor’s longtime political strategist, told the Sun-Times on Thursday that Emanuel knows he’s in for a challenge, given a rocky last 12 months that included an intense battle with the teachers union, which ended up striking for two weeks. Emanuel later closed 50 schools, including in largely African American neighborhoods, causing another uproar.
“He takes nothing for granted. That’s how he operates. There’s always the possibility that a challenger will arise and he wants to be prepared…He’s trying to make sure he has the resources he would need in a serious campaign,” Kupper said. “It’s no secret that some of them [including the Chicago Teachers Union] are actually out trying to recruit candidates. When you take on entrenched interests, there’s always the possibility that you will have an opponent. If he doesn’t, then it stays in the warchest.”
The Chicago Teachers Union said there are conversations going on “in a lot of different tables,” and it doesn’t fear his warchest. Davis Gates said CTU’s polling shows Emanuel is struggling throughout the city and noted that he was recently booed at public events.
“When you go to Evanston, your alma mater, the town next to where you grew up and you’re booed, you’re doing terrible,” she said. “He’s going to need $5 million and some strong policy to help him through this.”
It’s no secret that the CTU would want Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to run for Mayor. The former teacher will attend the CTU PAC dinner at the end of the month to talk to members.
“She’s running for reelection and that’s her priority. The fact remains she presents a formidable foil to what we have currently,” Davis Gates said. However, Preckwinkle has made no promises and for now: “She’s been very clear she’s running for reelection.”