Unlike his predecessor ex-Mayor Richard Daley, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been actively wading into Democratic legislative primary fights. And Emanuel did so again yesterday, throwing his support to Christian Mitchell who's locked in tough race against Kenny Johnson for the Illinois House seat once held by now-Chicago 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns.
Johnson is backed by heavyweights U.S. Reps. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Chicago) and Danny Davis (D-Chicago) and powerful labor groups, such as the Chicago Teachers Union.
The presumed big enchilada endorsement comes from the mayor.
"Christian Mitchell has the right values, strength, and character to get the job done in Springfield. We can trust him to find the right solutions to the issues facing Chicago and Illinois," said Emanuel.
"I am endorsing Christian because he is dedicated to fiscal responsibility, giving our kids the education they deserve, and making critical investments to keep our city and state competitive. We need more leaders like him."
Mitchell, 25, is also backed by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago), Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Governor Pat Quinn, and a slew of big unions, most prominently the fearsome SEIU Illinois State Council, whose ground game prowess is well-known. The powerful pro-choice group Personal PAC is also behind the first-time candidate.
What will Rahm's support reel in that Mitchell lacks?
Mitchell has already a well-financed campaign war chest; he has SEIU's ground operation and that of other Democratic Ward Committeemen behind him; and he has a bevy of big-name political endorsements.
Heck, he has even support from lawmakers and politicos far outside the district, such as north side State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), ex-Illinois Comptroller and progressive Democratic icon Dawn Clark Netsch, and ex-Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman.
Mitchell might get the bragging rights of a mayoral endorsement and extra street muscle.
But the real winner seems to be the mayor himself.
By taking stock of a bright, young, ambitious African-American candidate who has assembled a broad and impressive coalition and who may possibly have an unlimited future, Emanuel might be thinking to himself that he has seen this story before. And this time he wants to align himself with the winner. The mayor gets to bask in Mitchell's glow.
Emanuel's endorsement helps Emanuel.