Jackson: Chicago Political Veterans Predict Easy Emanuel Victory

Panelists (from left) Bruce Dold, Cynthia Canary
and Mick Dumke. (Photo by Emily Torem)

Jackson Stop IconBy Emily Torem
The Red Line Project
Posted: Feb 11, 2011

On Feb. 22, Chicagoans will elect a non-incumbent candidate for mayor for the first time in more than 60 years.

But don't expect a close race in the bid to replace Mayor Daley. It  belongs to former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, according to a panel of Chicago political experts who spoke Wednesday at DePaul's College of Communication Loop campus.

Panelists  for "The Run City Hall: Politics as Usual?" were Mick Dumke, former associate editor of the Chicago Reader and current political reporter for the Chicago News Co-operative; Illinois Campaign for Political Reform Executive Director Cynthia Canary; Pulitzer Prize winner and Chicago Tribune Editorial Page Editor Bruce Dold, and outgoing Cook County Assessor James Houlihan. Fox-TV analyst Thom Serafin moderated the panel.

When Serafin took a vote of the participants and audience at the end of the discussion, nearly all of them raised  their hands when asked if they were voting for Emanuel.

“I don’t think people are paying attention," Dumke said. "The notion of Rahm as mayor has set in as an inevitability. We could do worse."

The numbers support the informal vote. A Chicago Tribune/WGN poll released Friday had Emanuel with 49 percent of the vote, a hair short of the majority needed to succeed Daley outright after the election. Gery Chico, the former Chicago Board of Education president and top Daley aide, was a distant second at 19 percent, according to the poll.

Still, the developments of the next two weeks could surprise Chicagoans, Canary said.

“Two weeks can be a long time in politics,” she said. “It’s like the World Series, it's when the casual fans tune in.”

Other topics ranged from whether a run off would be necessary on April 5 -- the equivalent of “overtime” in politics, where a failure to garner more than 50 percent of the vote results in a second election -- to the qualifications and capability each candidate had to contend with the city’s many issues, most notably the budget crisis.

Serafin started off the discussion with a question asking if the panelists and audience would see the “usual” Chicago politics come into play in the upcoming election.

Mick Dumke makes a point during the panel discussion. (Photo by Emily Torem)

“[There is a] great deal of disgust about elected leaders” Houlihan said, commenting on the necessity for change. " ... Commitments can’t be kept; voters are disappointed. [There is a] cycle of cynicism, an insipid force impacting [voter] turnout.”

Dold agreed, saying, “This next mayor can’t run the city the way it has been run.“ 

Canary appeared more optimistic.

“I don’t think we will…there will be new police chiefs [with the new mayor], a new superintendent, we will be seeing changes…”

Dumke said he thinks it will be "politics as usual; business as usual is not sustainable.”

“This election was very exciting at the outset, then very quickly disintegrated into passing of the baton to Rahm Emanuel,” he added

The panelists mostly discussed the race between Emanuel and Chico, barely touching on candidates Carol Moseley Braun and Miguel Del Valle.

“Do you think Carol has a shot?,” asked Serafin. The general consensus of the panel was no.

“No, she has a pathetic campaign,” said Houlihan.  Demke, Dold and Canary agreed.

During the questions-and-answer session, an audience member asked if aside from the politics of it all, if any of the candidates were actually qualified to run the city of Chicago.

“Do they know what they're talking about?" Houlihan asked. "Do they have the will or the strength of character to propose real, substantial solutions? That’s an open question.” 

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