CHICAGO – The left wing petition website MoveOn.org is endorsing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s main competition, Cook County commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, in the upcoming mayoral race.
The Chicago Teachers Union and its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, also endorsed Garcia, while the Chicago Federation of Labor has opted to stay out of the race in 2015.
MoveOn.org’s political action committee announced its endorsement of Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia Thursday after conducting a poll of its members that found 57 percent support Garcia, while 20 percent voted for Emanuel, 18 percent backed Ald. Rovert Fioretti, and 4 percent supported businessman Willie Wilson, ProgressIllinois.com reports.
“Incumbent Rahm Emanuel spent his first term looking out for corporate interests and those at the very top – at the expense of students, working people, and neighborhoods across Chicago,” MoveOn.org’s executive director, Ilya Sheyman, said in a statement, according to The Hill.
Meanwhile, the city’s largest labor coalition, the Chicago Federation of Labor, has opted not to make an endorsement in the mayor’s race, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“After the meeting with our representatives, it was decided not to take action,” Federation spokeswoman Nora Cay Ryan told the Tribune.
Emanuel has working relationship with federation President Norge Ramirez, but his dealings with the CTU and local AFSCME union likely soured any hope of an endorsement. Emanuel clashed with the CTU on school policy during his first term, particularly over issues like a longer school day and tying student test scores to teacher pay, both issues that contributed to a CTU strike in 2012.
MoveOn.org shared messages from members about why they chose to back Garcia in its Thursday statement:
Chuy Garcia will be a mayor for everyone in Chicago, not just the rich people. He respects the value of our public institutions, including our public schools, and won’t spend his time trying to sell our city to the highest bidder. –Faith S.
He is an honest and committed progressive community leader, has been a community organizer, but also has extensive government and political experience as alderman (under Harold Washington), state senator and county board member. His 30-year+ record speaks for itself. He is just what Chicago needs to get out of government-for-the-1% it is now. Let’s get our city back.–Joanna B.
Chuy Garcia is the real deal. He’s a bridge builder between brown and black communities, understands the value of neighborhood development and local schools. He’s ethical and experienced in bringing wasteful, corrupt government … back into line. He’s the only progressive candidate with the experience, resources and allies needed to mount a viable alternative to our current mayor, who has squandered the goodwill and the resources of the city. Chuy is the leader Chicago needs now! –Maureen K.
Emanuel, meanwhile, has boasted gains in education since he took over the city’s top post.
“On Thursday, Mayor Emanuel greeted a group of educators and school researchers he helped to organize two years ago, quoting a blizzard of statistics and getting into the most intricate details of policy,” My Fox Chicago reports.
“The good news starts with more of our students today graduating from high school than ever before,” Emanuel said of the city’s now 70 percent graduation rate.
The mayor also pointed to a study that showed 80 percent of CPS students will likely graduate by 2019, with more than ever heading off to college, according to Fox.
The CTU, of course, is disputing the mayor’s facts and criticizing Emanuel’s decision to close down dozens of underperforming public schools.
However, Emanuel hasn’t shied away from the criticism, and offered a very effective rebuttal when the issue was brought up last week.
“I didn’t want to do it,” he said of the school closings. “But keeping kids locked in failing schools to fail consistently? I didn’t run for mayor to do that.
“And if it was my political future versus their future, I would put my political future on the line so they get a better education,” Emanuel said Thursday.