Every political junkie watching Monday’s WTTW Chicago Tonight mayoral forum surely has a question or two that he/she wishes the moderator, Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin, had asked. I wish Marin had asked Rahm Emanuel, “Should you get the 50-percent-plus-one vote next Tuesday, will you direct what’s left of the $11 million or so in fundraising money to particular aldermen in competitive races who will face runoffs on April 5th?”
Emanuel may be the most adept man—not only on that WTTW podium, but on the entire planet—at knowing just how to spread around excess campaign cash. This is the guy, after all, who brilliantly ran the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006 that resulted in huge Democratic wins.
Earlier in last night’s forum, there was much talk among the candidates about how this was a new day for Chicago, with all 50 city council seats on the ballot, many seats up for grabs—just for starters, 11 aldermen are retiring. Writing in the Tribune, Hal Dardick predicted that “as many as half of the 50 aldermen to be sworn in this May could be rookies.” That could bring to an end the era of the Daley model of dictatorial mayor and obedient city council.
But if Emanuel directs his leftover campaign cash to aldermen of his choice, would this sea change be muted—and a new rubber-stamp model be established? Anyone who has studied Emanuel’s career would expect him to be a super-skilled strategist when it comes to picking aldermanic races, influencing the outcomes, and earning loyalty.
Someone needs to ask Rahm—perhaps at the final debate of this campaign on Thursday from the studios of ABC7—to pledge to do something else with his money should he carry the day on the 22nd.
Photograph: Chicago Tribune