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Emanuel Isn't Sweating Teachers Union Plan To Make Him A One-Term Mayor

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 17, 2013 4:20PM

Emanuel photo credit: Viewminder, Lewis photo credit: Rotating Frame

Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters Tuesday he isn’t worried by threats from the Chicago Teachers Union to make him a one-term mayor. The CTU announced a voter registration campaign Monday focused on opposing Emanuel, select aldermen and state legislators that the union says didn’t listen to their objections, nor those of parents and students, on school closures. CTU President Karen Lewis said the union hopes to register 100,000 new voters, continue advocacy efforts at City Hall and in Springfield, host political education forums and identify and train candidates for mayor, City Council and statewide offices, ramp up donations to their political action committee to fund those candidates, and go door-to-door in neighborhoods affected by school closings to encourage potential voters to head to the polls.

According to the Sun-Times, Lewis said, “If the mayor and his handpicked corporate school board will not listen to us, then we must find those who will.” Lewis was asked at that same news conference if she would consider running for office. Per the Tribune, Lewis replied:

"No. Thank you." But then she added, "Not yet."

For what it’s worth, Emanuel dismissed the teachers union’s increased political activity. DNAInfo Chicago reports the mayor said he’s too busy governing and focusing “like a laser” on education.

But is Emanuel worried about Lewis behind the scenes? She is the one person to make the mayor blink during his time in office, knows her political base and plays to them effectively. But if she decides she’s the best person to challenge Emanuel, will her rhetoric resonate with a wider voting base? It’s one thing to call Chicago “Chi-Raq” to residents in depressed communities. How middle class whites in affluent neighborhoods will respond to her is another matter entirely.

Then there’s the issue of raising campaign funds and whether CTU can keep up with Emanuel. Emanuel’s war chest currently stands at $1.9 million and he can raise hundreds of thousands more with a single phone call. The Sun-Times reports more than half of Emanuel’s campaign donations have come out of state. His agent brother, Ari, recently organized a fundraiser for the mayor. More money means Emanuel can organize a campaign where he doesn’t need to address Lewis or another CTU-backed opponent directly. But a lot can happen in the next two years.