Although two former Members of Congress are on the ballot, the race for mayor of Chicago hasn’t drawn much involvement from Washington lawmakers.
Most of the Chicago-area Democrats in Washington, D.C., have endorsed either former Rep. Rahm Emanuel, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun or former school board President Gery Chico in the race to replace longtime Mayor Richard Daley. But aside from loaning their names, Members haven’t been campaigning or fundraising on behalf of their favorite candidates.
The election is nonpartisan, but in the heavily Democratic city all the top candidates are high-profile Democrats. The election will be held Feb. 22, and if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held April 5.
A Chicago Tribune/WGN poll released Friday showed Emanuel leading by 30 points but not quite clearing the 50 percent threshold. In the poll, Emanuel got 49 percent, Chico got 19 percent, Moseley Braun got 10 percent and City Clerk Miguel del Valle got 8 percent. The poll of 718 registered voters was conducted Feb. 2-5 and had a margin of error of 3.7 points.
Emanuel was largely responsible for Democrats’ takeover of the House in 2006 as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a role that ingratiated him with House Democrats. But in his time as White House chief of staff from 2009 to late 2010, he may have alienated some Members who experienced his wrath on issues important to President Barack Obama. Illinois Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Mike Quigley have endorsed Emanuel.
Quigley, who replaced Emanuel in Congress, said he didn’t have a close relationship with Emanuel before, but the brash Emanuel convinced him over three hourlong conversations last fall. Quigley said he talked to Emanuel at length about tax increment financing, an issue he dealt with at the local level when he was a county commissioner.
“He was a quick learner, asked all the right questions, and he followed up with my former chief of staff at the county commission, read the reports,” Quigley told Roll Call last week. “That was the first thing that struck me that he’s serious.”
Since Quigley publicly endorsed Emanuel on Jan. 27, though, he hasn’t tried to persuade other Members of Congress to join him. Quigley also hasn’t contributed to Emanuel’s campaign.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.