On his way out the door, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has tried to take care of the aldermen who were loyal to him, cutting hundreds of thousands of dollars of checks to various campaigns in an effort to help incumbents get re-elected as part of his “no friend gets left on the field” political mantra.
Emanuel sees it as a way to reward those who joined him in taking difficult votes, such as for large tax hikes, that could draw voters’ ire. But in an election year when proximity to the outgoing mayor comes with political peril, it’s not clear whether the benefits of his largesse countered the drawbacks of being associated with him.
Of the 11 sitting aldermen forced into April 2 runoffs, eight received at least $20,000 from the mayor. So did two of the three incumbents who lost outright in the first round — North Side Ald. Joe Moore and Northwest Side Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno.
The day after Chicago’s February city election, Emanuel was adamant that the contests hadn’t been a referendum on him.
To prove his point, the mayor rattled off a list of aldermen around the city whom he had appeared with in the days before voters went to the polls. If he were politically radioactive, Emanuel reasoned, the aldermen wouldn’t have wanted to be seen with him.
“And I don’t mean to do this, but if it was about me, you wouldn’t see, I’m here with Pat Dowell today. But on Sunday I was with Walter Burnett, Carrie Austin, Michelle Harris, Howard Brookins, Greg Mitchell, Susan Garza. All within 48 to 72 hours before the election,” he said. “And if an alderman thought any otherwise, they wouldn’t have done that, but they did. And not only did it, asked to do it.”