CN Jan 29, 2015

Rahm Emanuel’s headed for a runoff. He’ll get close to the 50% prize, but he won’t win it. That’s the opinion of 75% of the veteran, experienced reporters around our table today. NPR/Chicago’s Cheryl Corley and the Reader’s Mick Dumke say the run-off’ll happen, but WLS AM’s John Dempsey dissents. He thinks Emanuel will win outright.

We begin with today’s Sneed story that 70 locals in 15 labor unions are about to endorse Rahm Emanuel.S o how did the guy who started off in such opposition to the City’s trade unions win them over?

“The British statesman Edmund Burke said in politics there are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent interests,” says Dempsey. “I can’t imagine that the ironworkers love Rahm Emanuel or love his warm and fuzzy personality. But he is the pro-business mayor. The guy who wants to build more buildings, and that creates more jobs for the building trades unions. He is the person who they feel best represents their interests.”

Mick Dumke isn’t all that impressed. “When is  the last time these unions have not endorsed an incumbent mayor?” he asks. The fact that this is getting a huge splash says more about Rahm’s campaign style and his needs at the moment than it does about a changing dynamic.”

Another major development this week is the Tribune Poll which shows a fairly dramatic turnaround in African-American support for the Mayor in just a couple of months. Cheryl Corley says this might be the result of a careful calculation.

“There was a lot of disappointment and anger when those 50 school were closed.'” she explains. “You have a certain amount of time where you can try to shape or change peoples’ opinions. I think all of that campaign money and all the commercials where you have black individuals coming on and saying – Rahm’s the guy – that he’s making the change.”

Cheryl was the host this past weekend of the Chicago Women in Action mayoral forum in which each candidate sat  at the table answering questions Cheryl presented from audience members. What surprised her about the candidates? “They really answered the questions that these people wanted to hear,” she says.

So at this point in time – less than a month from election day (and only ten days from early voting) Rahm Emanuel seems to have all the advantages. In fact, he raised another $800,000 just this week alone.  His opponents are not well-known individuals.  There appears to be very little interest in the race at all. And the mayor probably benefits if voter turnout is low, because he needs to win 50%-plus-one of all votes cast, and if no opponent is setting the electorate on fire, it might be easier to win half of a really low turnout. And today Greg Hinz reported that voter registration is up by an insignificant one percent over 2011.

“The opposition early hasn’t had time to build a legitimate campaign – fundraising, the voter registration, the infrastructure. They’re sort of doing this along the way,” Dumke points out.

And there’s agreement around the table that a runoff – even one that Emanuel eventually wins – is a benefit to all Chicagoans. John Dempsey gets the last word: “He has done some very, very controversial things. And he needs to be in a serious race. And this is not a serious race, what we’re seeing right now. ”



About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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