Emanuel’s fund-raising effort doesn’t impress

 

by RUSS STEWART

The mayor better step up his game if he wants to continue to reign.

That pithy rhyme characterizes the plight of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is going to need to raise and spend somewhere close to $40 million if he expects to be re-elected in 2019. As is shown in the adjacent chart, Emanuel raised $1,595,872 in campaign funds during 2016, and he had $1,016,829 on hand as of Jan. 1.

Inasmuch as he spent more than $25 million to get re-elected in 2015 and there are just 24 months until he appears on the ballot, the mayor needs to step up his fund-raising game. He raised $563,479, $424,981 and $599,404 in the last three quarters of 2016, respectively, for a total haul of about $133,000 per month. That, as they say, ain’t gonna cut it.

If Emanuel expects a third term — and that is a dubious proposition — he needs to raise $500,000 a month in this year and $1 million a month in 2018. It will take $40 million, with both positive and negative media ads blaring every half hour from mid-2018 through February of 2019 to both resell the mayor and unsell his opponents. Have no doubt, it will be a hard sell. Right now Emanuel would have a tough time beating Bozo the Clown.

Potential 2019 competitors have not yet emerged, but a few are stockpiling cash. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the undisputed “boss” of Chicago’s black political world, had $700,646 on hand, and she will easily raise another $2 million during her 2018 re-election campaign, elevating further her name identification. City Treasurer Kurt Summers, Preckwinkle’s favored black candidate if she doesn’t run, had $221,647 on hand. His back-up is Alderman Rod Sawyer, the son of former mayor Eugene Sawyer, who had $14,204 on hand. State Senator Kwame Raoul had $383,847, and he could run for governor as a prelude to running for mayor. Willie Wilson, a millionaire black businessman who got 48,582 votes (10.7 percent of the total cast) in 2015, is running again.

Chuy Garcia, who got 33.6 percent of the vote in losing to Emanuel in 2015, has not been setting the phones ablaze with dialing for dollars, but he did figure prominently in Bernie Sanders’ campaign. That gives him a putative biracial “progressive” base. He had a puny $21,956 on hand, but will preempt any other Hispanic candidate.

White candidates are generating some green. Sheriff Tom Dart had $486,669 on hand, county Commissioner Bridget Gainer had $548,973, and Aldermen Tom Tunney and Brendan Reilly had $336,475 and $978,746, respectively.

It should be remembered that billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg spent $100 million in each of his successful bids for New York City mayor, in 2001, 2005 and 2009, running as a Republican the first two times, and barely won each time. There are some Bloombergs in Chicago, but they’re all Democrats.

Statewide, Bruce Rauner has changed the monetary landscape. Not too long ago it cost $2 million to get elected governor. Rod Blagojevich upped the ante to $25 million for his 2002 and 2006 campaigns, engaging in pay-to-play tactics which got him jailed. Rauner, who self-funded his 2014 campaign to the tune of $75 million and spent more than $100 million, has essentially incinerated politics-as we know it. He has $50,835,489 on hand, and the state Republican Party, having spent $30,114,910 in 2016, has $217,206. The dollars that go to Rauner are funneled through the party to various candidates, such as Leslie Munger and Mike McAuliffe. That “launders” the money, so the Democrats cannot claim that odious “special interests” are funding them.

Munger, in the comptroller’s race, “raised” $9,948,051, and McAuliffe, in one of Illinois’ 118 House districts, “raised” $2,274,886. The money came from Rauner and his buddies, and it was used for television time and mailers.

Mike Madigan does likewise. The House speaker runs the Illinois Democratic Party, which took in $6,647,829 in 2016, over and above the $3,791,976 which went to Madigan’s two political funds. The labor union political action committees and other special interests dump money into Madigan and the party, and it gets laundered and goes to Madigan-picked candidates. Susana Mendoza, the obscure Chicago city clerk, “raised” $2,850,140 in her winning race against Munger, and Merry Marwig “raised” $1,550,391 in her loss to McAuliffe. That was all Madigan money.

As the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial field unfolds, the only question is who’s got the bucks to beat Rauner. Like about $100 million. Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s got $2,260,366, and state Treasurer Mike Frerichs has $208,981.

Billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker and millionaire Chris Kennedy are the Democrats’ best hope against Rauner in 2018. 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar, who has announced for governor, is out of his league. He had $42,321 on hand. Frerichs and Raoul are going nowhere.

The developing story is the secretary of state contest, where Jesse White, who announced his retirement, had $424,268 on hand. A nasty 2018 primary between Alderman Walter Burnett and Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough, both black, and Downstate state Representative Jerry Costello Jr., who is white, was anticipated, but pressure from both Madigan and Preckwinkle has been intense on White, age 82, to unretire and run again in 2018. “He’s thinking about it,” his spokesman Dave Druker said. An AFL-CIO convention that White attended in January passed a resolution imploring him to run. There are concerns about White as a candidate, but count on this: He will run and win easily.

In Northwest Side developments, forget about rumors that 45th Ward Alderman John Arena is running for assessor or mayor. He had a measly $11,763 on hand, and he currently is enmeshed in a mega controversy over a low-income housing development at Northwest Highway and Milwaukee Avenue, with 100 units planned. Arena has a downtown fund-raiser chaired by Preckwinkle scheduled for March 9, with tickets going from $200 to $2,500. Does that mean that Preckwinkle is backing him for assessor? Not a chance. “She has endorsed Joe (Berrios) and is supporting him for renomination,” a Berrios spokesman said.

The guy who likely will run against Berrios is Alderman Proco Joe Moreno, from the Near North Side 1st Ward, who had $383,857 on hand. Moreno has not been a slavish Emanuel alderman or a stalwart party cog, often endorsing party rebels. He is looking at a major battle in 2019, and a 2018 primary race against the cronyish, nepotistic Berrios would give him great visibility and cement his anti-machine base for 2019. He could even win.

It was presumed that Aldermen Pat O’Connor (40th) and Marge Laurino (39th) would retire in 2019, but they had $$277,669 and $84,806, respectively, on hand. Nick Sposato (38th) had $44,138, Anthony Napolitano (41st) had $15,794, Deb Mell (33rd) had $58,565, and Debra Silverstein (50th) had $$77,127 — ample but not intimidating amounts. Scott Waguespack (32nd), who may run for mayor, had $60,374.

The guy who will never run and who will stay in the Illinois House until Madigan quits is Lou Lang of Skokie, age 67, who had $1,256,339 on hand and who raised $545,476 last year. By 2030 Illinois might have a Speaker Lang.

Send e-mail to russ@russstewart. com or visit his Web site at www. russstewart.com.




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