Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago and former chief of staff for Barack Obama, is out courting Republican support to win re-election.
Facing an uphill election battle against another Democrat, Emanuel is trying to portray himself as the lesser of two evils. The more moderate Emanuel faces a far-Left county commissioner, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
Emanuel is hoping that votes from Republicans, who compose roughly 20% of the city’s population, will be enough to put him over the top.
So far, several big name Illinois Republicans have come out in favor of Emanuel.
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk warned that, if Garcia is elected mayor, Chicago could collapse under debt and go the way of Detroit. And Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is working hard behind the scenes to solidify support for Rahm Emanuel’s re-election campaign.
Right now, Emanuel is walking a tightrope: he has to appeal to Republicans, without alienating liberal and minority voters.
But overall it seems to be working: according to a recent Ogden and Fry poll, Emanuel is up 47% to 37%. While it’s dangerous for any incumbent to be polling below 50%, it’s clear Emanuel has at least a slight edge before the April 7th election.
No matter what happens, this Chicago mayoral election has significance nationwide: it will be the first election of the 2016 cycle to pit a more moderate “Wall Street Democrat” against a far-Left populist candidate.
With Hillary Clinton stumbling in recent weeks because of her email scandal, it’s getting increasingly likely that she’ll face an opponent in the Democratic primary. Since Hillary has a virtual lock on Wall Street money–and, like her husband, is seen as more moderate than Barack Obama–that challenge will almost certainly come from the far-Left.
Whether that challenger is liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren, or self-proclaimed socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, or another lesser-known figure from the Left, this election in Chicago could pave the way for the future of the Democratic Party–and their presidential prospects in 2016.