Rahmbo challenger in Chicago seriously ill
Karen Lewis, the bombastic head of the Chicago Teachers Union and a potential challenger to Mayor Rahm Emanuel in next February's Democratic primary, had emergency surgery on Wednesday and is suffering from a "serious illness" according to a union spokesman.
Lewis was ahead of Emanuel in the latest polls, but her campaign has been placed on hold until her health situation becomes clearer.
Jesse Sharkey, the union vice president, said he could not identify the illness at the direction of Lewis’s family. “Her family has been very explicit about their desire to keep details of her health issues out of the public eye,” he said at a news conference at the union’s headquarters. He refused to answer a question from a reporter about whether Lewis has a brain tumor.
The health scare could end plans by Lewis to challenge Emanuel in the mayoral election, set for February.
Emanuel, 54, is completing his first term as mayor under sinking approval ratings, particularly among African American voters. A majority of black voters backed Emanuel four years ago, but support eroded after Emanuel closed 50 public schools — argely in African American neighborhoods — and has struggled to control violent crime, especially in minority communities.
At the same time, the mayor has directed school construction in the largely white and affluent North Side Chicago communities.
There’s also the matter of Emanuel’s personality, said Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman who teaches political science at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
“He’s a great CEO. He barks orders, people go out and do things, and some work out and some don’t,” Simpson said. “But there’s an arrogance. He’s not too good on democracy. He doesn’t ask people what they think.”
Lewis, 61, emerged as a political force in Chicago in 2012, when she defied Emanuel by leading 26,000 teachers and school workers through a successful seven-day strike — the first in Chicago in 25 years.
Teachers were furious with Emanuel, who had persuaded the Illinois General Assembly to raise the threshold for a strike, rescinded on a 4 percent pay raise and offered teachers extra money to waive their contract and work a longer school day.
The strike sidelined 350,000 students, but by and large, parents backed the union. Teachers won more pay, while Emanuel got the longer school day. And Lewis emerged as the woman willing to take on City Hall.
Lewis is even further left than New York's Mayor Bill DeBlasio:
“And, when are we going to address the elephant in the room? When will there be an honest conversation about the poverty, racism and inequality that hinders the delivery of a quality education product in our school system? When will we address the fact that rich, white people, think they know what’s in the best interest of children of African Americans and Latinos—no matter what the parent’s income or education level. And, when did all of these venture capitalists become so interested in the lives of minority students in the first place? There is something about these folks who love the kids but hate the parents. There’s something about these folks who use little black and brown children as stage props at one press conference while announcing they want to fire, layoff or lock up their parents at another press conference.
“I know no one likes to talk about race, especially since so many people believe we are living in post- racial America--even though Chicago remains the most segregated city in the United States. There is nothing wrong about dreaming that everyone is equal; that all playing fields are even; and that all anyone needs to succeed is equal opportunity to get ahead---but we have to work on this together to make this happen.
“Whether they want to be bus drivers or bankers—it is our job to give our students the best, high-quality (and equitable) education available. This is our responsibility. Our obligation. It is our job to encourage the dreamers. To give them a stable and supportive environment and the tools and discipline they need to succeed."
You hate to say it but Chicago would be even worse off with this flamethrowing socialist as mayor.
Lewis is morbidly obese so the list of possible maladies she is suffering from is long. Emanuel has raised more than $8 million already for his campaign so Lewis, even if she recovers sufficiently to run, would be at a big disadvantage.
But Emanuel is extremely unpopular and it wouldn't be the first time that a machine candidate was upended by a fiesty challenger. No doubt Rahmbo would breathe a huge sigh of relief if health problems kept Lewis from running.