With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The upcoming battle for the Latino vote in Chicago

Former UNO CEO Juan Rangel, Rahm Emanuel, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez at a news conference at Little Village High School
The Sun-Times' Natasha Korecki tries her best to assess the upcoming battle for the "Latino vote" (Is there only one?) between Rahm Emanuel and "Chuy" Garcia.

Korecki seems to give the edge to the mayor because he's wrangled some opportunist support from Rep. Luis Gutierrez. But Luis' record of political support is tattered. It certainly didn't do much for Gery Chico in the 2010 race. And wasn't Luis the one blasting Rahm not so long ago, for his key role in the Obama administration’s failure to move ahead on immigration reform. Remember, Rahm was the one who called immigration "the third rail of American politics," warning that Democrats who tried to work on the issue would suffer heavy political losses.

Now Luis claims Rahm has "evolved" on the issue. Evolution works in mysterious ways in an election year. Doesn't it? We may never know what kind of deal was cut between the two back in May.

It's also worth considering whether or not the so-called "Latino vote" only swings on the immigration reform issue. What about education? Gun violence? Neglected city services in the community? Environmental racism? All weak spots for Rahm.

UNO tied to Madigan
For example, in his first big media ad buy, Rahm tries to take sole credit for closing two area coal plants in the Pilsen/Little Village neighborhoods, when in fact it had taken years of work by community activists.
"Rahm is a thief," said Gloria Fallon of Rising Tide Chicago. "He stole our photograph and our hard work for political gain." -- Chicago Tribune
Korecki doesn't even mention UNO in her analysis. Particularly in the Mexican community, UNO's support for Rahm may be a much more the lynch pin than the Gutierrez endorsement or support from proven losers like machine-boss Joe Berrios. But UNO support is a double-edged sword and the ongoing UNO charter school scandal, with direct ties to Rahm, Gov. Quinn and Speaker Madigan, may end up damaging the mayor, depending on how and whether or not his opponents raise it.

Chuy Garcia and his wife Evelyn
On the other hand, "Chuy Garcia" has a lot going for him (if you don't count money). For one thing, he speaks Spanish and can communicate directly with community residence.

More from Korecki:
Garcia already has the backing of Karen Lewis and the Chicago Teachers Union, which immediately helped put him into contention in a race where he will be significantly outspent by Emanuel.
“If Chuy can’t do it, I don’t know who can,” says Don Rose, a political adviser on Garcia’s campaign. “The guy is just extremely popular. North, south, east, west, he’s been around long enough, and maintained enough relationships. He’s got all of these relationships that really make him a citywide candidate who happens to be Latino. I’m sure he’s going to get a substantial Latino vote.”
Rose said Garcia can put together a coalition of support from Latinos, progressive whites and African-Americans. Garcia, a Cook County commissioner, is Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s floor leader. Garcia’s ties to the black community date back to the days of the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington.
The 63,000 petition signatures Chuy amassed in just 3 weeks is evidence of a strong ground game. He has a long, progressive history in the community and a successful track record as a politician. And polls show that together with Ald. Bob Fioretti, the two have a good chance on forcing Rahm into a runoff, where an edge for Garcia in the Latino community could push him over the top.

At least that's my most hopeful scenario.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.