Karen Lewis is back on Twitter.
Until yesterday, the Chicago Teachers Union president, former mayoral contender and avid tweeter had been silent on the social media platform since Oct. 5, when she checked into the hospital and was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. A week later, she took her name out of the running as a potential candidate to challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2015.
The 61-year-old CTU rabblerouser, who would often use Twitter to rib Emanuel (whose tweets are boring by comparison), resurfaced on the site Sunday to retweet several missives from supporters and fellow pro-teacher progressives. One of those was Michelle Gunderson, a CPS educator who oversees elementary schools at the union and wrote:
— Michelle Gunderson (@MSGunderson) October 19, 2014
Others sending well wishes were the Badass Teachers Association, an East Coast-based liberal group, which said: "BATS are praying hard for your health & happiness! We adore U #Love4Karen."
Fiery, charismatic and a born leader, Lewis would have shaken up the mayor's race in exciting ways—especially during a time when progressive issues like the minimum wage are gathering steam throughout the country.
At the moment, Emanuel's biggest competitor is 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti, another of his most vocal critics. Many possible candidates are less-than-willing to go up against his $9-million-and-counting election warchest; Lewis, however, recently launched a nascent fundraising campaign to gather enough donations to battle the super-connected celebrity city boss.
Lewis' allies say "instead of fighting Rahm, she'll be fighting for her life" with many calling the turn of events "tragic."