With all the buzz about Karen Lewis possibly running for Chicago mayor, it's sometimes easy to overlook 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti—another vocal critic of Rahm Emanuel—as he too considers whether to throw his hat into the ring.
Fioretti has long eyed the mayorship and this election cycle is no different. His antipathy toward Emanuel, whom he accuses of attempting to dismantle the City Council's Progressive Caucus, has reached fever pitch as the mayor's deep-pocketed super PAC stages a campaign to form strategic alliances with aldermanic candidates in an apparent bid to push out progressives—and keep Emanuel in office.
While Lewis, the fiery Chicago Teachers Union boss, pops up all over town participating in get-to-know-Karen Q&As at local restaurants, Fioretti has begun conducting informal focus groups of his own accord.
"Over the last several months, I've been traveling our city and talking to voters about the future we want to see for Chicago," Fioretti told supporters in an email Tuesday, circulating a petition to crowd-source demand for his candidacy.
"After nearly 200 meetings with community groups, congregations and civic leaders, I am close to a decision on the best role I can play in moving our city forward. But before I make this important decision, I want to hear from you. Should I run for mayor of Chicago?"
Fioretti has since been active on Twitter, bashing Emanuel and retweeting messages of support and news headlines of the "Will He Run?" variety.
He was heartened perhaps by the recent Chicago Tribune poll showing Emanuel's job approval rating at an all-time low and Lewis leading the mayor in voter support. Asked about a potential Emanuel/Fioretti match-up, survey-takers favored the mayor 43 percent to Fioretti's 26 percent. Still, the Trib took the alderman's unexpectedly high numbers as a "sign that there's a sizable contingent of anyone-but-Emanuel voters."
Fioretti's ward, the 2nd, was gutted and rendered unrecognizable in a re-map two years ago amid his protests and allegations of political retribution; the new boundaries won't officially be drawn until 2015.
While Emanuel wants to hike the minimum wage from $8.25 to $13, Fioretti and Lewis are aiming to raise it to $15.
Should both progressives challenge Emanuel, there's a chance the pair—who appeal to different segments of anti-Rahm voters—could together draw down the incumbent Democrat's percentage of the vote, regardless of Emanuel's multi-million-dollar war chest.
"We're looking forward, we're putting the team together, and we're seeing what we need to do," Fioretti recently told the Chicago Reader of his plans, which involve a "listening" tour. "Rahm's base will vote—that 30 percent out there—and of course there are dollars and cents."