For the past month in Chicago's media, it's been all Rahm, all the time. With a loaded campaign war chest, a connection to President Obama, and a scattered and dollar-poor opposition, Emanuel has found his return to Chicago surprisingly easy going.
But this week, cracks began to appear in the wall protecting Emanuel. New, critical voices are coming through, making his cakewalk into the mayor's office a little more slippery. It's becoming obvious that not everyone, even in the city's business and political hierarchy, is happy about the prospect of Emanuel taking over so easily.
Case in point--check out Greg Hinz's latest column in Crain's Chicago Business ("Miguel del Valle echoes Harold Washington in long-shot mayor's bid"). Hinz, probably more than any other journalist, has his finger on the pulse of the city's business community, and while they have obvious problems with some of del Valle's more progressive positions, Hinz' column is a sign that del Valle is gaining respect as a viable candidate. He's arguably the most progressive candidate in the mayoral field -- similar, as Hinz points out, to the late great Mayor Harold Washington, who also ran on a platform of economic justice and institutional change.
Del Valle is gaining credibility, in part because he brings an added dimension in that his candidacy is reflective of a great demographic shift, with Latinos about to become the city's largest ethnic group. Immigration reform could prove to be a critical issue and del Valle and candidate Gery Chico both turned out at a recent press conference supporting the Dream Act. But it was left to del Valle to land the solid blow with his criticism of Emanuel's "lack of courage" for putting the Dream Act and immigration reform on the legislative back burner while serving as Obama's chief of staff.
Education remains the key to del Valle's campaign because, for the past 15 years, the mayor has ruled the schools, appointed all board members and hand-picked the CEO. The current chaos and flat-lining of CPS's pulse can be directly attributed to Mayor Daley's autocratic rule and the failure of his corporate-style, top-down reform, named Renaissance 2010. Emanuel promises more of the same. Del Valle -- not.
More from Hinz:
He [del Valle] was one of the fathers of the local school council model that largely was dumped during the Richard M. Daley years, and he'd clearly like to go back to some sort of system that spreads the wealth. "It's time to focus on the low-performing schools," he says. "We don't need a dual-track system."
Critical voices like del Valle's may force Emanuel to respond to some tougher questions than the ones he's been getting from the press, and may yet turn the cakewalk into a real campaign.
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