Rahm hits Chico on Tea Party support
By ABDON M. PALLASCH Political Reporterapallasch@suntimes.com February 16, 2011 7:14PM
Mayoral candidate Gery Chico has rejected an endorsement by the Chicago Tea Party. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
Updated: July 2, 2011 12:20AM
Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel’s campaign is sending robo-calls to Hispanic voters around Chicago, telling them that rival Gery Chico has been endorsed by an “anti-immigrant group, The Chicago Tea Party.”
The calls do not mention that Chico has repeatedly and forcefully rejected the group’s endorsement. He did it again Wednesday at the garage where he used to work as a teen: “I repudiate the platform of the Tea Party of Illinois. I am the grandson of a Mexican immigrant. I’ve been one of the most staunch defenders and promoters of federal immigration reform for my entire career and to start calling into homes suggesting otherwise is a complete untruth.”
The problem for Chico is that his spokeswoman, Brooke Anderson, referring to the Chicago Tea Patriots organization, said in an interview with the Huffington Post Sunday, “We welcome their support in addition to the broad range of support we have received from a diverse range of organizations.”
Emanuel said Chico waited 24 hours before he back-tracked on Anderson’s “welcoming” of the endorsement, so Emanuel said his robo-calls are fair.
“He was endorsed by the Tea Party and he did accept the endorsement of the Tea Party,” Emanuel said at the former USX plant Wednesday. “For 24 hours it was not considered a mistake. It was welcomed and and and appreciated.”
The Chicago Tea Patriots endorsed Chico Jan. 28. On that day, Anderson told the Sun-Times she was not familiar with the group and did not expect Chico would embrace the endorsement.
The Chicago Tea Patriots is actually a small offshoot of the main Chicago Tea Party group, the Chicago Tea Party Patriots. The larger group has not endorsed any of the Democrats running for mayor. The organization sent out a press release Tuesday saying, “Chico is not the man.”
The off-shoot group headlined its Jan. 28 press release “Stop Rahm Emanuel.” In endorsing Chico, it said he was less liberal than Emanuel and said he supports letting city employees live outside Chicago. Actually, Chico has only said he is open to discussing dropping the city’s residency requirement.
Chico said he was not familiar with either group or their platforms. Emanuel said Chico should know the Tea Party movement is dedicated to fighting President Obama’s agenda.
But Chico and another mayoral candidate, Miguel del Valle, say Emanuel, as President Obama’s chief of staff, kept immigration reform off the table because he thought it would hurt Democratic candidates at election time.
“How ironic that the guy who is most responsible for de-railing immigration reform in this country, Rahm Emanuel, puts out a robo-call to Latino voters,” del Valle said at his campaign headquarters.
“Most people blame Emanuel for not moving immigration reform on the Obama agenda,” Chico agreed. “I am so happy to see my president put immigration reform right back on the agenda [since Emanuel left.]”
Emanuel’s robocall notes the Tea Party opposes immigration reform and supports Arizona’s crackdown on undocumented residents. The call says Emanuel supports a local version of the proposed federal Dream Act to provide college scholarships for children of immigrants.
Chico’s campaign is fighting the robocalls with a Spanish-language television ad featuring immigration reform champion U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez. Gutierrez praises Chico’s stance on immigrants’ rights and notes that when Emanuel had the chance to push reform as Obama’s chief of staff, “He turned his back on us.”