Obama Mentor Preckwinkle May Challenge Emanuel for Chicago Mayor

Image: Obama Mentor Preckwinkle May Challenge Emanuel for Chicago Mayor

Sunday, 23 Feb 2014 07:46 PM

By Greg Richter

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First-term Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel could face a challenge from the mentor of his old boss, President Barack Obama.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle may have her sights on the job, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, though she insists she is running only for re-election this year.

Preckwinkle could be Emanuel's "worst nightmare," according to Sun-Times veteran City Hall reporter Fran Spielman.

Emanuel has alienated the black community, the Sun-Times's Carol Marin notes, by closing neighborhood schools while opening charter schools. He also has angered police and firefighters in contract talks.

Though Preckwinkle says she isn't running, observers note a mayoral campaign would not be so different from that of Harold Washington. In 1983 Washington had just been re-elected to Congress, yet made a quick turnaround and beat the political odds to become Chicago's first black mayor.

Preckwinkle, if elected, would be the city's first black female mayor.

Losing after one term would be a twist for Emanuel, who took office in 2011, fresh off a cabinet position as Obama's chief of staff. It was Preckwinkle who once mentored Obama in his early days in Chicago.

Preckwinkle supported Obama's run for state Senate in 1996 and his unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2000. She took credit for Obama joining the church of the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Breitbart reports.

She has since soured on Obama, though, Breitbart notes. She was an Obama delegate in 2008, though she was already expressing doubts about him then.

Among those interested in seeing a Preckwinkle run is leftist radical Bill Ayers.

"She could be a formidable opponent," Ayers told Chicago magazine in December. "But the problem is she doesn’t have anything like the money [Emanuel] has and she screwed herself [by being too close to] the Democratic machine."

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