Thursday, March 19, 2015

The other Garcia running for mayor

Chuy, in Chicago.  From the evening of February 24th, after he made the runoff against the incumbent, Rahm Emanuel.

We the people have spoken. Not the people with the money and the power and the connections. Not the giant corporations.

The big-money special interests. The hedge funds...who poured tens of millions of dollars into the mayor's campaign. They've had their say for too long. But today, the rest of us had something to say.

We've got six weeks of hard work ahead of us -- and believe me, these big-money interests are going to throw everything they got at us. They run this town and they're not gonna give up easy. But we're gonna fight...we're gonna win.

When Garcia's campaign manager was asked how his candidate could be outspent 12-1 and still force a runoff, he replied, "Money can't buy you love."

During his first term as Chicago mayor, Emanuel privatized some public schools and closed others, went hammer-and-tong after teachers, appointed his cronies to boards and commissions, and essentially declared war on all things -- people and ideas -- progressive.  This is his history: while he was chief of staff in Obama's White House, Emanuel was credited ("discredited" is a better word, IMO) with killing the public option for healthcare reform.

As a city alderman, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia fought so hard against Chicago's machine politics that then-Mayor Richard M. Daley made kicking him off the city council a top political priority. The same sort of thing -- making enemies of powerful interests -- happened when he served in Springfield, IL as a state senator.  As a Cook County commissioner, he helped balance their mess of a budget while lowering taxes.  He has aligned himself with those who hold to account the 1% and the corporations who buy our politicians and muck up our political system.

On both sides of the aisle.

Night before last, on St. Paddy's, the two men had a debate.  This account makes it seem as if the moderator -- a fixture in Chicago journalism -- was the winner.

Without any doubt, the winner of the first one-on-one debate between Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his challenger, Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, was its oh-no-you-don’t moderator, Carol Marin. Setting aside the near-historic sight of a 66-year-old woman on television, the TV and print news veteran won the night by brooking a minimum of blah-blah, and jumping in front of various filibusters: “Let’s go back four years,’’ Emanuel began, when asked how to close the Chicago Public Schools’ billion-dollar deficit. “No, let’s not,’’ Marin said crisply.

As she isn’t on the ballot, though, in the city’s April 7 mayoral runoff, voters must choose between an insurgent who’s been cast as such a sweet guy he might have a marshmallow center, and a famously profane incumbent who has lost support over crime, school closings, and revenue-producing red-light traffic cameras.

Sounds like it was great fun.  It's still steeply uphill for the challenger, though.

The fact that there even is a runoff has humbled Emanuel and embarrassed the president he served as chief of staff in their own town. It has excited those Chicagoans who’d love to see the city elect its first Hispanic mayor, and secretly pleased even some who see Garcia’s run as quixotic, but aren’t what you’d call heartbroken to watch their sometimes abrasive mayor have to work for his reelection against an opponent with a fraction of the funds and name recognition.

A recent Chicago Tribune poll showed Emanuel leading his challenger, 51 to 37, but Garcia supporters are hoping that turnout by those too turned-off to come out for the original vote on Feb. 24, when few thought Garcia had a chance, will swing the runoff his way. If yard signs are any indication, Garcia will do well in the president’s old neighborhood, Hyde Park.

Go finish up; it's well-written.

There are so many parallels to Houston's Garcia, and so many polar opposites between the two that it's hard to measure them with modern technology.  One example: Chuy is running against those terrible red-light cameras -- a Republican peeve a few years ago in H-Town, you will recall -- the removal of which would blow an even bigger hole in Chicago's budget than they already have.

Let's establish that Rahmbo, an internationally renowned asshole, is likely to return to office.  A vote for Emanuel would represent not just a vote for crony capitalistic scorched-earth politicos, but a vote for continuing and extending the CIA-modeled police state tactics that have been revealed in the Windy City, and on display in too many other municipal police departments around the country.

Update: Another Garcia from Chicago, cartoonist Eric J.

A narrow loss for Emanuel would represent a nascent progressive revolution of sorts.  And the media would rush to project ramifications large and small for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

So let's at least hope that our mayoral tilt is as fun as the one they're having in That Toddlin' Town.  And finally, let's watch closely to see if the Bayou City's Garcia can be as successful -- so far -- as Chicago's.  Maybe even return to his Democratic roots a little (if he can't actually be progressive, in other words) for the sake of politics and elections.  Wouldn't that be something to see.

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