Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel has just taken a major hit to his re-election campaign. Willie Wilson, a candidate in the earlier round of the election, has endorsed Emmanuel’s opponent, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, in the run-off. Wilson is African American, and some are speculating that his endorsement might help Garcia take a larger chuck of the Black vote. The African American vote was crucial in Emmanuel’s election last time around, and could play a huge role in deciding the race between him and Garcia.The Chicago Sun Times reports that President Obama urged Wilson to support Emmanuel, but Wilson was unmoved:
“I had the opportunity to meet with President Obama here several weeks ago,” Wilson said at a South Side Baptist church, flanked by Garcia and numerous supporters. “And he came up said, ‘You know, I gotta vote for my boy Rahm, and support my boy Rahm,’ but I gotta say this today: Mr. President, I’ve gotta support for my boy Chuy.”
Emmanuel, though a part of the Obama political machine, has cast himself as a blue reformer in Chicago, and has made attempts at fixing the pension crisis, creating tax-free zones, and reforming unions. Apparently one of the specific reasons Wilson endorsed Garcia is anger over Emmanuel’s decision to close some public schools in African American neighborhoods. Garcia, on the other hand, is a true believer “blue lemming” Democrat—a man cast in the mold of Bill de Blasio—who is reliably described in the media as the more “progressive candidate”. He has won the endorsement of people like Howard Dean, and has said that Emmanuel “epitomizes” a “corporate agenda”.The latest polls were showing Emmanuel and Garcia in a dead heat. This endorsement may help tip the balance away from Emmanuel. But even if it doesn’t, it shows just how tough times have been for reform-minded Democrats in blue cities, when not even a sitting president of the same party can move the needle in their favor.As much as the media makes of the division within the GOP between the tea party and the party establishment, divisions like these within the Democratic party are shaping up to be at least equally as consequential.