While they're traditionally major players in local politics, the Chicago unions have so far largely refrained from making endorsements in the upcoming mayoral race. The Service Employees International Union, the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Teamsters have all kept mum thus far, as Chicagoist reports.
But yesterday, one union broke from the pack, as the Fraternal Order of Police announced its support for Gery Chico.
"Gery Chico understands what Chicago needs," said Mark Donahue to the Chicago Sun-Times. Donahue is president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
"It would be nice to have a mayor that will fight right alongside [the police] by providing the resources to get the job done."
The union appreciates Chico's plan to add two thousand new officers to the force, Donahue told the Chicago Tribune. And it remembers his term as chief of staff to Mayor Daley, in which he helped beef up the department's ranks.
Still, when balloting of the union's 17,000 members began, Chico was running roughly neck-and-neck with his arch-rival, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
That is, until the union got wind of Emanuel's plan to cut pensions for current cops. After that, the FOP board voted unanimously for Chico.
The endorsement means support from a powerful union, and a moment in the limelight in what can feel like a crowded field of Emanuel opponents. But some would argue that the union endorsement also places Chico firmly in the camp of the status quo.
Current police superintendent Jody Weis had this to say about the union, in an interview with Huffington Post Chicago:
"Some of the candidates have said that they will go to the FOP and ask who they think the new superintendent should be. OK, then, you're probably going to get something that's going to be business as usual. Then we have to go back to: what was that business? Before I got here, there were a lot of scandals. The Hanhardt scandal, where you have the chief of detectives basically involved in jewelry theft... You go back to the Jefferson Tap case, you go back to the Abbate case, you go back to the Cozzi case. Was that business as usual? I don't know."
Given that Chico won his endorsement by opposing pension reform, and given his long history of close ties with Mayor Daley, his biggest challenge might be proving that he's not business as usual after all.