Chicagoans head to the polls Tuesday for a mayoral runoff election where conservatives nationwide should be rooting for someone they once considered a bitter enemy: former chief of staff to President Obama and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Emanuel’s opponent, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, is far more liberal than Emanuel. Garcia has the backing of a laundry list of liberal progressives, including Howard Dean, Jesse Jackson Sr., the Chicago Teachers Union, the Service Employees International Union’s State Council, the National Education Association, and MoveOn.org.
Garcia’s Chicago would be a conservative nightmare. He wants to put a moratorium on new public charter schools and maintain teachers union influence over how the school district runs. Garcia wants to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and re-establish a Department of Environment that Emanuel consolidated into other government agencies. On budget issues, Garcia has been criticized for being maddeningly vague on his plans. When Garcia finally published an op-ed with his budget positions, it focused more on critiquing Emanuel than putting forth his own ideas.
Despite his background with the Obama administration, Emanuel has implemented a number of reforms in Chicago that conservatives should support. For example, the number of charter schools in Chicago has risen from 103 to 130 under his watch. According to Democrats for Education Reform, “In his first three years in office, Mayor Emanuel has secured more time for instruction” — Chicago until recently had one of the shortest school days in America — “more public school options for parents, and more support for students.” Emanuel also stood up to the Chicago Teachers Union’s demands in 2012, resulting in a strike that lasted for seven school days.