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The battle for Willie Wilson

Monday, Mar 2, 2015 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Willie Wilson made an unusual announcement yesterday

The African-American businessman, who was knocked out of the contest in the Feb. 24 primary, says he had private meetings over the weekend with the two candidates who will be on the April 7 ballot: incumbent Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Wilson tells CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov he’s already decided he’ll vote for Garcia. That’s based in part, he says, on his dissatisfaction with public school closings under Emanuel’s administration and also the city’s continued use of red-light cameras.

“My personal vote is for anybody except for this mayor,” Wilson said Sunday.

Still, he said, he could end up publicly endorsing Emanuel, depending on what members of his own community tell him. Wilson insisted his personal vote is separate from who might be best for the city as a whole.

So, what weight would an endorsement carry if he’s actually voting for Garcia?

* From Sneed last week

Sneed hears Gov. Bruce Rauner has called former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson twice to encourage him to endorse Mayor Rahm Emanuel in April’s runoff election.

Rauner and Wilson are expected to meet Saturday. Wilson supported Rauner in his gubernatorial campaign last year, and in turn Rauner appointed him to his transition committee. […]

On Thursday, Wilson announced he was retracting the promise he made on the eve of Election Day that he would endorse Garcia in the event of a runoff.

Wilson said he will consult with his supporters to determine whom he will endorse.

* But

Gov. Bruce Rauner met Saturday with former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson, but the manager of Wilson’s campaign said Rauner did not seek an endorsement for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The Rev. Gregory Livingston, Wilson’s campaign manager, also denied a previous report that Rauner called Wilson twice to encourage him to endorse Emanuel in April’s runoff election. […]

Rauner confirmed Sunday that he met with Wilson. But he declined to say what they talked about, and he chuckled when asked about the Emanuel endorsement. […]

Livingston denied that Rauner had called Wilson seeking the endorsement. He said Wilson met with Rauner to discuss budget cuts proposed by the governor that would hurt social service groups.

* And check this out

The ongoing tug-of-war over landing businessman Willie Wilson’s endorsement in the mayoral race took a different turn on Saturday when Wilson met with powerful union leader Tom Balanoff.

Wilson and Balanoff, president of SEIU Local 1 and the state council, had a “productive and friendly meeting,” said Jerry Morrison, a top political operative in the group. Morrison said Wilson reached out to SEIU about having a sit-down meeting. A Wilson representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

SEIU local 1 is likely to make an endorsement in the race in upcoming days, reversing its pledge before the Feb. 24 election to remain neutral. SEIU health care has already been part of a coalition that has backed Garcia.

I’m told Wilson was invited to speak to the union’s executive board this week.

* Along this same front, the mayor’s campaign is pushing hard against Garcia over the city’s presidential library bid…

Attributable to Steve Mayberry, Emanuel Campaign Spokesman


Thirty-six hours ago, Chuy Garcia repeated his opposition to landing the Barack Obama Presidential Library on the South Side. Today’s statement from Garcia doubles down on his opposition to using park land - continuing to jeopardize community leaders’ efforts to bring the library home.

It’s time for Chuy to take a clear stance:

    Does he fully support the existing South Side locations for Barack Obama’s legacy library?
    Will he actively defend the lawsuit that is likely to come from preservationists who do not represent the South Side?
    If he does now support the South Side locations, what is the rationale for the flip flop in the last 36 hours when he told the Chicago Sun Times that “Just because some interests with important connections want it there doesn’t mean it has to go there”?

* And

Emanuel angrily slammed [Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget] plan, saying, “Do not think you’re gonna do this — not only on the backs of families and children, but on the resources that . . . pay for our police and firefighters and first responders.”

Garcia said he didn’t believe Emanuel and wanted to make sure the public knew the mayor and the governor had a high-flying backstory.

“He and Rauner are good friends,” Garcia said after Emanuel’s comments on the budget. “They apparently share expensive wines together. They talk on a very regular basis. I’m sure the mayor had advanced notice that these cuts were coming down. The mayor should have ensured that the governor wouldn’t have the audacity to even think about draconian cuts.”

Voters’ biggest beef with Emanuel was over closing 50 schools and for his reputation for making decisions unilaterally. So now isn’t the time to be seen hanging out with the governor, whose budget proposes cuts to the CTA and other city entities.

* And

A Chicago polling firm is calling the city’s runoff campaign between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia a “dead heat.”

New numbers from Ogden & Fry show Garcia, a member of the Cook County board of commissioners, within reach of the one-term Emanuel. And the firm warned that the Hispanic population under-polls, meaning that population is underrepresented in the data.

“They’re likely dead even,” pollster Tom Swiss said Sunday night.

Ogden & Fry conducted two one-question polls for The Illinois Observer on Wednesday and Saturday. Emanuel had 42.7 percent support in the earlier poll of 1,058 likely voters one day after voters denied Emanuel a second term outright. Garcia had 38.7 percent support in that poll. The margin of error was +/- 3.07 percent.

In the Saturday poll of 979 likely voters, Emanuel had 42.9 percent support to Garcia’s 38.5 percent. The margin of error was +/- 3.2 percent.

Both polls show 18.6 percent of respondents were undecided.

Crosstabs are here.

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  1. - MrJM - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:08 am:

    “So, what weight would an endorsement carry if he’s actually voting for Garcia?”

    Who knows?

    Maybe the same as when a newspaper’s editorial board endorses a candidate while their reporters routinely revealing him to be a charlatan.

    – MrJM

  2. - VanillaMan - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:09 am:

    Wilson can get a plum job if he endorses Emanuel and Emanuel wins. Wilson can lose everything if he endorses Emanuel, and Garcia wins instead. Wilson voters are natural Garcia supporters. If Wilson endorses Emanuel, expect his credibility gone with his earlier primary supporters - but if Emanuel wins, he will owe Wilson a nice job as a reward for selling out.

  3. - Gooner - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:10 am:

    The discussion over Wilson’s “endorsement” seems a bit ridiculous.

    I’m not aware of any real support for Wilson as a politician, as opposed to as a demographic.

    This is Chicago, where politics is often racial. Wilson was the African American candidate in the race and as such, he got some support. There have to be fifty individuals who, in that race, would have done better.

    I’m just not seeing that endorsement carrying any votes along with it.

  4. - Just Observing - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:10 am:

    While I understand why a candidate would rather have Willie’s endorsement than not, his endorsement won’t carry much weight at all.

    His comments about voting for Garcia and possibly endorsing Rahm are just bizarre.

  5. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:12 am:

    ===I’m not aware of any real support for Wilson as a politician===

    Clergy are always heavily courted, and he’s very influential with the clergy.

  6. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:14 am:

    If the endorsement doesn’t carry enough weight for the person making the endorsement to vote along that line, how much weight can it be expected to have on others?

  7. - no prob - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:18 am:

    Really weird. The fact that Wilson’s endorsement is being talked about is an indication of just how important the African-American vote is in the runoff. I think Rahm needs to take the black vote a by a reasonably comfortable margin or he’s got real trouble.

  8. - Wordslinger - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:19 am:

    That’s a first. Vote for one guy, endorse another.

    Rickey certainly found himself an interesting payday.

  9. - Snucka - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:25 am:

    If Rahm is truly at 43% support, and 19% are undecided, this is wide open.

    Rahm would need to grab 39% of those undecideds. Who are they? They are clearly not yet convinced after four years of the Emanuel administration.

    Will turnout in this first-ever mayoral runoff throw any polling and the campaigns’ likely-voter identification into chaos?

    Will Chuy get some national attention to offset some of Rahm’s financial and organizational advantages? He will never negate those edges, but can he raise enough to give himself a chance?

    One other note — Chicago Forward just broke the caps for the general. I guess they don’t agree with William J. Kelly that this somehow benefits Chuy.

  10. - Responsa - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:26 am:

    If that’s Willie’s idea of hedging his bets it’s a pretty strange way to go about it.

  11. - Apocalypse Now - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:28 am:

    Wilson shows bold leadership. NOT!

  12. - Snucka - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:28 am:

    Umm… Mark Kirk just essentially endorsed Rahm Emanuel. The weird gets weirder.

  13. - Carhartt Representative - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:30 am:

    Willie Wilson: “I want everybody in joining me in supporting Rahm Emanuel as he leads our city into the future.”

    Rahm Emanuel: “Hey Willie, can you at least take off the Vote for Chuy button?”

    Willie: “Sorry, I forgot.”

  14. - Wensicia - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:34 am:

    ==depending on what members of his own community tell him==

    I wonder who’s gonna tell Wilson which candidate the members of his community want? Rauner?

  15. - A guy - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:37 am:

    If he hasn’t made his support irrelevant yet, he’s certainly heading that way. I agree with Rich about the AA Clergy, but don’t think Willie has the franchise on it. Good question might be whether Meeks is talking to Wilson instead of all these other folks.

    Not sure it will matter as Willie masters the mixed message. Confusing voters would seem to lead to supporting the status quo. Firing a Mayor would demand some reasoning, wouldn’t it?

  16. - A guy - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:39 am:

    And…I know a lot of schools were closed (which was a difficult but necessary decision). And it’s been a cold winter. But, is it just me, or does it seem like there’s less school violence being reported, even at school events after the school day?

  17. - 47th Ward - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:41 am:

    ===Still, he said, he could end up publicly endorsing Emanuel, depending on what members of his own community tell him. Wilson insisted his personal vote is separate from who might be best for the city as a whole.===

    I’ve heard Wilson speak, and to be fair, it can be a challenge to understand him from time to time. The Great Communicator he ain’t.

    His endorsement is important. He probably didn’t realize how important when he spoke on election night. He does now. Game on.

  18. - walker - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:48 am:

    His day in the sun.

  19. - Responsa - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:52 am:

    What a mess. If he ends up “endorsing” either candidate now it’s just going to look to everybody like he sold out to the highest bidder. If Wilson’s really undecided, he’d be far better off not endorsing either Chuy or Rahm and sagely telling his supporters that with him now out of the race they should follow their own consciences as to who’d be the best choice to lead Chicago for the next four years.

  20. - foster brooks - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 11:53 am:

    I thought rauner was staying out of the mayoral race? I can see why the GA wont give this guy the authority to move funds around.

  21. - A guy - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 12:01 pm:

    2 questions with regard to Mr. Wilson in AA wards?

    Is he more influential than the Alderman?
    Is he more influential than the Pastor?

    If he’s neither, his support won’t matter.
    If he’s one or the other, he’ll have some effect.
    If he’s both, his support will be helpful.

    These questions will apply separately in 20+ wards.

  22. - Let'sMovetoTexas - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 12:03 pm:

    Rauner is too savvy to inject himself into a Rahm endorsement. A GOP’s Governor’s endorsement would be the kiss of death in Chicago.

  23. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 12:08 pm:

    I doubt Mr. Wilson needs a job.

  24. - JC_B - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 12:08 pm:

    Find it amazing Rahm hasn’t cleaned house, or at least fired someone from this disaster that is his reelection campaign. He’s fighting for his political life and yet here he is sticking with the same people who clearly cannot do the job. Tuesday was a disaster for Rahm personally and too any alderman races, yet here we are almost a week later and everyone in Rahm’s camp still has the same job. Maybe Rahm wants to lose?

    Next question is will the papers connect the dots with Rahm playing politics with CPS students. The PARCC test news that dropped this morning is ugly. Played chicken with ISBE and Feds, knowing they were gonna lose, in hopes of getting to 50% last week. Failed and now schools have a week to get the test together.

  25. - Steve - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 12:12 pm:

    Willie Wilson’s endorsement isn’t going to sway too many people one way or another. The voters seem to have an opinion without endorsements in this Mayoral race. Bill Clinton and President Obama gave Rahm a big endorsement but they didn’t help Rahm enough. Garcia is in the game, with or without endorsements from well known people . The teachers union endorsement means a lot more than Willie Wilson. It appears even campaign funds mean little.

  26. - Thomas Paine - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 12:17 pm:

    Rahm looks terrible chasing this guy around for an endorsement. Can’t believe it’s come to this for him.

  27. - Wordslinger - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 12:20 pm:

    Guy, what “school violence” are you talking about?

    Had been some previous epidemic of violence in schools that was reported on? Or are you talking about violence among school-age youths that had nothing to do with the schools?

    Seriously, words matter.

    Whatever, violent crime has been on the decline in Chicago and the United States for decades. I doubt if that’s Emanuel’s doing.

  28. - Steve - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 12:23 pm:

    In the coming weeks , Chicago will have a real debate about the pressing issues facing Chicago. I do give both candidates and the media credit for asking and answering real questions on real problems this election cycle. The push is going to be on more specifics. Where will Chicago get the money to pay for public pensions? How high are property taxes going to go? What are the odds of a commuter tax? What if the suburbs slap on a commuter tax on Chicago residents? Can the sales tax really go any higher on Michigan Ave?

  29. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 12:24 pm:

    ===What if the suburbs slap on a commuter tax on Chicago residents?===

    They can’t. Neither side can act. It’s a GA issue.

  30. - Rod - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 12:32 pm:

    Mayor Emanuel’s team is going to have to significantly increase negative perceptions of Commissioner Garcia. I doubt the Mayor can make his own negatives disappear, so he going to have to dirty up his opponent. Its going to get ugly.

  31. - Steve - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 12:33 pm:

    Rich is right , even though the subject of a commuter tax has come up in the campaign. The transaction tax also has come up which is even more challenging since it requires the Illinois state legislature and an act of Congress to pass. It appears any major new funding source will have to be approved by the General Assembly : what are Emanuel and Garcia willing to support? If they want more revenue ?

  32. - Matt Belcher - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 12:35 pm:

    ==I doubt Mr. Wilson needs a job.==

    Of course you are correct from a rational economic perspective.

    One does not spend millions (or tens of millions) of their own dollars in quixotic battles to acquire the relatively low pay of the guv’ment job.

    However, identify, dissect and biopsy what aspect of the person’s id, ego or superego need to be stroked and sated and perhaps anyone is susceptible to temptation.

  33. - Amalia - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 1:05 pm:

    most interesting, Ogden Fry. looking back at their polling for the Feb. 24 contest yields some head scratching stuff from Aldertrack. so what do we make of this mayoral poll in light of their previous work?

  34. - Under Further Review - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 1:14 pm:

    Did pollster Tom Swiss run an unsuccessful stealth campaign against former state legislator Derrick Smith?

  35. - Six Degrees of Separation - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 1:15 pm:

    A GOP’s Governor’s endorsement would be the kiss of death in Chicago.

    A Gov. Thompson endorsement wouldn’t have been the kiss of death. This guy, maybe.

  36. - A guy - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 1:49 pm:

    Slinger, do you really not remember brawls at football and basketball games being reported and the kid being slammed with a 2 x 4 right outside the school door? It was all over the news and YT.

    I do recall a big hubbub over closing schools and kids crossing gang territories and groups ensuring safe passage, etc. I just haven’t seen anything in quite a while with regard to schools and violence. This is good news. I hope it continues.

  37. - Wensicia - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 1:56 pm:

    You’re not likely to hear of school related violence through the media. This information is kept confidential as districts do not want their disciplinary issues aired in public, using the protection of minors as an excuse.

  38. - Wordslinger - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 1:57 pm:

    Guy, what’s your point? Are you talking about violent crime trends or just whatever video the TV station you get your education from has on any particular day?

    To calm your mind, there really isn’t an epidemic of water-skiing squirrels, it just seems that way.

  39. - Snucka - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 1:58 pm:

    Actually, Ogden & Fry did pretty well in the primary. When factoring in the margin of error, Garcia did slightly better than their final poll and Wilson did slightly worse. All the other candidates finished within Ogden & Fry’s margin of error.

  40. - Jake From Elwood - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 2:09 pm:

    It is actually kind of sad to see Rahm pandering for the Willie Wilson seal of approval. And it’s not even the Willie Wilson who stole a lot of bases for the KC Royals back in the day…

  41. - A guy - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 2:14 pm:

    Sling, the point is “kids seem safer at school”. So, you go hang 10 with the squirrels.

  42. - ZC - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 2:15 pm:

    Bob Fioretti really didn’t finish that far behind Wilson. I agree that African-American voters will decide this runoff but I’m curious if any back channels exist right there as well.

  43. - moddem - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 2:35 pm:

    If the Ogden & Fry poll is right, I’d make Garcia the early favorite. He has the potential to substantially increase his share of the the African American vote. He’ll have some money to run commercials touting his connection to Harold Washington. He can definitely make up a 4-5% gap (which may even be smaller if Swiss is right and Hispanics are underrepresented). If the other two early polls are right, and the gap is closer to 10%, then Rahm is probably the favorite, but not a shoo-in.

  44. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 2:36 pm:

    ===If the Ogden & Fry poll is right, I’d make Garcia the early favorite===

    If the poll is right, Chuy is probably getting an expected post-election bounce. Time will tell if it’s a dead cat bounce.

  45. - Snucka - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 2:48 pm:

    More important than Wilson’s endorsement is the fact that has made their first contribution to Chuy’s campaign. Could this race turn into a proxy war, allowing the left to show their displeasure with President Obama’s perceived “moderate” presidency? What better way to send a message than toppling Obama’s buddy in his own backyard? Just a thought.

    Also, someone needs to tell Wilson that he’s not an elected official. As such, he doesn’t need to follow the guidance of “the community” when deciding who he endorses in a political campaign. Leadership means having your own opinion and convincing others to join you.

  46. - Amalia - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 3:11 pm:

    how did Ogden & Fry do on the aldermanic race polls?

  47. - Snucka - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 3:19 pm:

    I haven’t a clue how they did in those races. I do know that aldermanic races are difficult to poll and there was a large MoE. I’m only talking citywide.

    Also, as I stated earlier, this runoff is without a good precedent and may prove impossible to poll.

  48. - Emily Booth - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 3:29 pm:

    If backs Chuy, this is more considerable than Wilson backing Chuy. I have a feeling the AA community is going to sit out the mayoral election. They’re very unhappy w/ Rahm. The message was sent.

  49. - Rod - Monday, Mar 2, 15 @ 3:57 pm:

    County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said this morning she is “staying out of” the April 7 mayoral runoff, despite her close ties to her floor leader, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. This is not the way for Garcia to get the African American vote to be sure, but she is not supporting Rahm either. See

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