Rahm Can be Defeated

Some myths offer humanity a tremendous benefit. They offer light and joy in a sometimes dark and cheerless world. They encourage feelings of generosity and charity for the less fortunate. They spread magic, even if it is just for a moment, to the most cynical of hearts and minds – even journalists.

However, other myths are intended to cause harm. For example, the Chicago media is currently perpetuating the myth of an invincible Rahm Emanuel, who is running for re-election for mayor of Chicago on February 24th.

Let me be the first to decimate this ridiculous myth: Rahm Emanuel can be beaten in 2015. 

Even Chicagoans are fed-up with arrogant, aloof Rahm “Dead Fish” Emanuel. After four years, Emanuel’s approval rating has plummeted to 35% and most voters believe he is “out of touch.” They don’t call him “Mayor 1%” for nothing.

From Rahm’s tax on 911 emergency calls and the looming city pension crisis to the closure of 50 Chicago public schools, his flip-flop on hiring 1,000 cops, and the mounting body count in gang-controlled areas of the city, Emanuel has exhibited incompetence, not leadership.

Don’t let director Robert Redford and CNN’s "scripted” documentary series, “Chicagoland” (engineered by Rahm’s Hollywood agent brother, Ari) tell you different.

Yet the mainstream media appear desperate to see Emanuel -- President Obama's former White House Chief of Staff -- re-elected at any cost.

Instead of headlines blasting the Emanuel administration for rejiggering homicide statistics into “noncriminal deaths” (including a dead teenager found bound and gagged in an abandoned warehouse) in order to boast that Rahm has -- voilà -- solved Chicago’s murder crisis, newspapers trumpet the massive daily campaign donations he is raising instead. It is a convenient political distraction.

The manufactured myth of Rahm’s invincibility is based on the faulty premise that, due to Emanuel’s fundraising prowess, any political challenger would have to be crazy to oppose him. 

As the former (and only) Republican mayoral challenger to Emanuel, I have experienced this media “ridicule” first hand. In late October, I busted the campaign finance caps in the Chicago mayoral race by donating $100,000 to my own campaign and have been the focus of the media’s defamatory attacks in articles and editorials ever since.

The fact that I am no longer a candidate has done nothing to dry up the liberal media’s venomous ink.

To wit, a little known Chicago Sun-Times writer, Dan Mihalopolous, who once penned a lengthy “help wanted” article about the Emanuel campaign’s need for paid petition circulators, recently blasted me for my contribution, complaining that -- oh no! -- now Rahm can raise unlimited funds.

“If this is a loophole in the campaign-finance rules, state lawmakers should act to close it before somebody else pulls a William J. Kelly and again makes a mockery of the law,” spat Mihalopoulos in his full-page published piece.

This is the stuff irrational liberal conspiracy theories are made of.

Eric Zorn, another obscure left-wing columnist for the Chicago Tribune, raved that I probably didn’t even make the cap-busting contribution and proposed a new law that would force candidates (like me) to prove their contributions with bank statements. (Mihalopoulos also asked me to prove my contribution with bank records and, as insulting as it was, I did).

What these members of the liberal Chicago media really are infuriated about is that I -- a conservative Republican columnist -- threw a monkey wrench into the corrupt political machinery of the “Chicago Way.” 

For years, the Chicago media looked the other way as Rahm bundled contributions to bypass the campaign caps and raised $600,000 in donations from city pension fund managers in violation of SEC laws. They aren’t worried that Rahm can raise unlimited donations. What they are worried about is that a challenger to Rahm could -- with just a few committed donors -- raise enough money to actually make the mayoral race competitive.

With the caps on, Emanuel had already raised the money he needed to win re-election. By early October, his committee had approximately $10 million and Chicago Forward, the Super PAC run by former members of his staff, had no campaign limits as an independent expenditure committee. Until recently, most observers considered Emanuel a re-election shoe-in. No challenger to Emanuel would have ever come close to raising $10 million in $5,300 increments.

But now the political landscape in the Chicago mayoral race has fundamentally changed thanks to yours truly.

Rahm’s most viable challenger is Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia who entered the race just a few weeks before the filing deadline in November. Miraculously, he gathered 63,000 signatures. Emanuel filed only 43,000 signatures -- well short of the 90,000 he filed in 2010.

With the campaign caps off, Garcia has raised almost a million in donations in the last month. The Chicago Tribune’s Hal Dardick predicts Garcia will raise more than three million dollars -- sufficient to mount a real campaign against Emanuel. With a recent donation of $250,000 by SEIU Healthcare, the endorsement of the Chicago Teachers Union, the CTA Union, and a coalition of 100 black leaders behind him, Crain’s says of Garcia’s candidacy, “Now, it’s a race.”

In Chicago municipal elections, there is no primary and candidates run without party affiliation. If no candidate earns a majority vote, there is a runoff election between the top two vote getters come April. With Garcia and eight other candidates in the race, a runoff is a distinct possibility and one the Emanuel campaign is desperate to avoid.

Imagine if the NRA or Gun Owners of America got involved in this race. They could vanquish Rahm Emanuel with a single blow. The audited reports of Chicago’s Inspector General and an investigation by Chicago magazine alone reveal that the Emanuel administration has been cooking the books on murder statistics by reclassifying homicides. Shootings are up, not down. This scandal deserves a national spotlight and Rahm Emanuel deserves to be defeated.

But the Chicago media refuse to tell this story.

Let’s defeat Rahm Emanuel now before he uses Chicago as a stepping-stone to national office as he intends to do. Americans have had their fill of ambitious Chicago politicians occupying the Oval Office.

Haven’t we?

William J. Kelly is a senior media strategist, TV critic and producer of Emmy award-winning television. He is a contributor to American Spectator, Newsmax, and the Huffington Post. Kelly writes about Chicago politics and its cast of political characters. He is a native of Chicago’s South Side.