At long last, Chicago’s Mayoral election is coming to a close, and it will end with a Rahm victory.
I’ve said this from the start but all the recent polling bears this out.
It’s amused me since I got to Chicago that Rahm is the candidate that Republicans are pulling for (and no, I’m not the only one, as this article in the Washington Examiner makes clear).
I’ve said before that the fact that Chicago Teachers Union boss Karen Lewis personally recruited Chuy Garcia alone makes me want to root against him. The fact that charter schools have actually expanded under Rahm’s tenure is one of the main reasons I won’t be completely devastated when he wins in a few hours.
Let’s put aside the major policies in the race (to the extent that Chuy even has any major policies), because I had two firsthand experiences that might shed light on the race in a new way.
Earlier last week I had the opportunity to attend the final runoff debate between Rahm and Garcia with my fellow First Year Representative to UChicago College Republican’s Executive Board, Adam.
We got the tickets by walking over to our Institute of Politics and simply asking if they were having a debate watch party, as they had for some of the previous debates. Rather than have us watch there, they gave us two tickets to see it in person, so after class is over, we taxi over.
Once we get dropped off, we walk through a sea of protesters for both candidates (one of whom offered my chewing tobacco) and take our seats in the audience.
Once the debate started, it was clear who had the edge.
I will hand it to Chuy, he wasn’t as much of an unmitigated disaster as he was in the first debate, where he was unable to answer even the most basic of questions (the Chicago Tribune wrote that after 15 minutes the debate “was as good as over”).
What follows are some of my favorite moments from the debate itself:
- Chuy took aim at Rahm’s proposed pension plan, calling it unconstitutional for the billionth time, on the grounds that it is currently before the state Supreme Court. By this logic, everything pending a Supreme Court judgement is unconstitutional including, for example, Obamacare, which I presume he supports.
- Garcia has never been known for offering any specifics, so it came as no shock that he offered one name for a proposed commission of his, adding he will look for “other people like that.”
- I was amused when Chuy was defending his record managing a non-profit (which sounds like a great organization actually) by saying “there was a deficit but…” which of course, makes me wonder how he plans to run Chicago.
- Chuy blamed the Great Recession on Rahm at least once (I tweeted about this any many of his delusional followers seemed to actually believe him), to which Rahm replied “I did not cause the recession.” To make matters worse, Chuy later responded to something Rahm had said by saying that “that’s like blaming [Rahm] for the recession,” to which Rahm replied that Chuy had done that not even 20 minutes ago.
- After the debate, only Chuy’s side had protesters left, and I was amused at how they were using megaphones to chant “What do we want? Quiet! When do we want it? Now!”
The one part of the debate that had my sympathetic to Chuy was when the moderator insisted on asking Chuy about his son’s previous affiliation with a gang, trying to use the logic that if Chuy couldn’t keep his own son out of a gang, how could he keep Chicago safe?
This question was absurd, and the audience continually booed it until the moderator (fortunately) moved on.
It reminded me of the time when John King asked Newt Gingrich about his open marriage, and Newt’s response is probably what pushed him to win the South Carolina primary.
After the debate was over, I noticed that Jesse Jackson had been in the audience (he has endorsed Chuy), and Adam and I had an…interesting uber ride to an amazing Indian restaurant before making it back to campus.
The other story worth recounting is how this past Sunday, I went to Rahm’s South Side campaign headquarters to see how I could help out. Of course, it was Easter, so this isn’t necessarily representative of how the campaign is normally run.
For the next three hours after my arrival, all I did was put sleeves on yard signs and sort 2,500 door flyers into piles of 50. At one point they had no idea what to do with me and were seemingly about to let me go early. When someone comes to your campaign, you probably shouldn’t be turning away their free labor. But it won’t really matter because, as I said, Rahm will win.
Neither candidate is an ideal one in my mind. However, Rahm is exponentially less bad, and I can find a few areas I agree with him on, whereas (to the extent I know anything about Chuy’s platform), I can’t say the same for his opponent.
It’s been a historic Mayoral race in Chicago (as I wrote about here), and it’ll be interesting to see where the next four years take us.
On a final note, I am really pleased with the title of this article.