While Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's (D) approval rating among voters has continued to dwindle in recent polling, critics hoping to capitalize on the mayor's unpopularity have struggled to overcome their biggest obstacle to defeating Emanuel: fielding a major challenger to take him on.
That could soon change.
It was reported Monday that Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis, who has outpolled Emanuel in both of the most recent surveys conducted on the race, loaned $40,000 of her own money toward a mayoral run. And though she has yet to formally announce whether she will or will not run, it's another sign she is very seriously considering doing so.
The Chicago Sun-Times also notes petition circulators have begun to work on Lewis' behalf while the union leader continues to put off an official announcement.
Meanwhile, another possible mayoral challenger appears to be gearing up to step into the ring. Ald. Bob Fioretti, one of the Chicago City Council's most outspoken Emanuel critics, tweeted Friday that he'll announce "some big news" on Sept. 13. He has already recruited campaign staff for a possible run and launched a "Should I run?" petition website seeking the public's input on the matter.
"I'm seriously considering it," Fioretti told the Sun-Times' Fran Spielman when asked directly on Monday.
While other Emanuel challengers have already announced their candidacy -- including police officer Frederick Collins, community organizer Amara Enyia and former Ald. Robert Shaw -- it is doubtful they have the name recognition or fundraising prowess required to overcome the mayor's $8.3 million campaign war chest.
Lewis has previously admitted her possible mayoral challenge "can never compete with [Emanuel] with money" though American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten suggested Lewis's campaign would warrant seven-figure backing from the national union if she does decide to run, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Lewis and Emanuel were frequently at odds over the course of Chicago's historic teachers' strike in 2012, followed by the mayor's support for closing of 50 public elementary schools largely in minority communities. Lewis has described Emanuel as the "murder mayor" and "a liar and a bully," while Emanuel is widely reported to have cursed the union leader out during a private meeting over lengthening the school day in 2011.