After a surprise upset in Michigan, Illinois is more in play than ever in the Democratic presidential primary.
Bernie Sanders is among the candidates turning their attention to Illinois, and in his efforts to take the state, Sanders is taking on a new adversary: Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
At a rally in suburban Summit Friday, he criticized the embattled mayor, thanking him for endorsing Hillary Clinton over him.
"I don't want the endorsement of a mayor who is shutting down school after school and firing teachers," Sanders said, to cheers from the crowd.
He elaborated on his statements at a press conference Saturday, flanked by community members including Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia, who challenged Emanuel in his 2015 re-election bid.
"As you know, Hillary Clinton proudly lists Mayor Rahm Emanuel as one of her leading mayoral endorsers, I believe he is at the top of the list of mayors who are endorsing her," Sanders said.
"Based on his disastrous record as mayor of the City of Chicago, I do not want Mayor Emanuel’s endorsement if I win the Democratic nomination. That is not the kind of support that I want to take," he continued. "We want the endorsement of people who are fighting for social and racial justice, we do not want the support of people who are indebted to Wall Street and the big money interests."
Sanders addressed the budget shortfall at both the local and state level, attributing both to "toxic swaps" with Wall Street banks.
"Mayor Emanuel had a choice: He could stand with the children or he could stand with Wall Street," Sanders said. "He made the wrong choice."
"The mayor has no problem putting pressure on teachers when he wants concession from them. He has no problem arm twisting parents on the South Side or the West Side when he wants to close down their schools. He is really tough isn’t he, taking on the children and the parents?," he asked. "But he ain’t so tough taking on the big money interests on Wall Street."
This rhetoric comes just days after Sanders launched three television ads in Illinois, featuring Garcia, as well as Chicago School Principal Troy LaRaviere, all critical of Emanuel.
"The chief politician standing in the way of us getting good schools is our mayor," LaRaviere says in the ad. "If you have a presidential candidate that supports someone like our mayor, you have a candidate who is not willing to take on the establishment. Bernie Sanders is definitely not afraid to take on the system."