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Moseley Braun adds heavy-hitters to campaign

Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun's choice campaign officials has some aldermen bent out shape.

Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun's choice of campaign officials has some aldermen bent out of shape.

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Updated: November 29, 2010 6:36PM

Former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun has given her mayoral bid a big but potentially controversial boost -- by signing a pair of seasoned campaign architects with winning track records and close ties to Mayor Daley and House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The surprise hiring of Victor Reyes -- Daley's onetime political enforcer and Hispanic Democratic Organization chieftain -- and Mike Noonan, a former Madigan political aide, could allow Braun to climb into the top tier of mayoral candidates.

But it also could prove a stumbling block in efforts to establish her independence to voters looking for change.

"Many people are looking for someone who can represent the interests of those people who have been denied access in the past," said Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th). "When you bring in an organization that is thought to be tied at the hip with those people who were in power, that leaves a bad taste in the mouth."

Reyes, who was implicated but never indicted in the city hiring scandal, said he signed on with Braun because her polling numbers are better than all of the other black candidates combined and because he firmly believes she has the best chance to build the coalition it will take to win.

Noonan will serve as Braun's campaign manager. The former director of Madigan's legislative campaigns, Noonan helped elect Lisa Madigan attorney general and Todd Stroger County Board president and piloted Ald. Bernie Stone's successful 50th Ward re-election bid in 2007.

Reyes' will be a senior adviser. Noonan and Reyes work together at Roosevelt Media, a media and political consulting firm.

"You can't win for mayor without a coalition," Reyes said. "I've talked to some of the Hispanic candidates. They believe Carol can get into the runoff and that she will be much more progressive on issues important to the Hispanic community. Twenty percent of votes cast will be Hispanic; 42 percent will be African American. If you put those voting blocs together with gays and women, that's a winning coalition."

Sources said a recent poll conducted for black business leaders showed former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel in the mid-20s; Sheriff Tom Dart at roughly 12 percent; Braun at 11 percent and state Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) at 5 percent.

"Carol is demonstrating that she has the deepest and broadest support among African-American candidates," Noonan said.

African-American aldermen struggling to find a consensus black mayoral candidate were troubled by Braun's move.

"There will be certain people in the community who are very skeptical about her choice of teams because of their close alignment with the [Daley] administration. It certainly will hurt her in some quarters," Lyle said.

Daley's approval rating tumbled to a record low of 35 percent before he announced last month that he would not seek re-election.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) added, "Carol is a 5th Ward resident, traditionally an independent ward. To go with the old guard standbys is a little disappointing."

Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) said she's willing to give Braun the benefit of the doubt: "She's probably trying to get the best one to run a good campaign for her."

The Hispanic Democratic Organization was at the center of the scandal that culminated in the 2006 conviction of Daley's former patronage chief on charges of rigging city hiring, promotions and overtime to benefit pro-Daley armies of political workers.

Reyes was implicated first as an unidentified "co-schemer" in the alleged conspiracy to reward soldiers in the mayor's political army, then by name in a court filing.

The document described allegations that Reyes continued to exercise substantial influence in personnel decisions, even after he left City Hall in 2000; held meetings in his City Hall office to arrange promotions for politically active employees, and gave marching orders to pro-Daley armies made up of city employees.

He was never indicted and refused to discuss the scandal Thursday.

"I've led a career based on helping to empower the Hispanic community. I've done it for 20 years. I'm going to continue to do it," Reyes said.

Braun's spokeswoman, Renee Ferguson, said the former senator chose Noonan and Reyes because she must build an organization from "ground zero" and is determined to "reach out to all communities."

She's not concerned that the taint of the scandal will tarnish her campaign, Ferguson said.

"When they investigate you and investigate you and bring millions of dollars to bear and you're not indicted, you don't go down -- that means you're cleared," she said.

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