Chicago Mayoral Race: Lewis, Fioretti Turn Up the Heat

Brace yourself, Rahm.

Two of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's most vocal critics are inching closer to making a decision on whether to challenge him at the ballot box this February.

Back in June, NBC Chicago first reported that Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis was seriously mulling a run for mayor. Since then she's explored the idea, privately and publicly, popping up at voter meet-and-greets around town. On Monday, the outspoken, off-the-cuff Lewis poured $40,000 of her own money into her campaign fund, explaining: "It's a sign that I'm trying to raise money. People have to see that we're trying to raise money now. We have to do all kinds of other things."

Meanwhile, 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti—leader of City Council's Progressive Caucus—said he planned to make an announcement by the week's end. He told the Chicago Sun-Times: "I'm considering it. I'm seriously considering it."

Offered Fioretti operative Michael Kolenc: "We have a big event planned for Saturday. All we're asking is that people save the day for an important announcement."

The alderman, who previously worried his campaign war chest wasn't outsized enough to trounce talented fund-raiser Emanuel, reported he received loads of encouragement following his late-August crowd-sourcing initiative.

With Emanuel's approval rating at an all-time low, Fioretti—who has long desired the mayorship—has begun in earnest to lay the groundwork for a potential Fifth Floor take-over.

Should both Lewis and Fioretti challenge Emanuel, there's a chance the political progressives—who appeal to different segments of anti-Rahm voters—could together draw down the incumbent Democrat's percentage of the vote.

While Emanuel wants to boost the minimum wage from $8.25 to $13, Fioretti and Lewis want to hike it to $15. They balked at the mayor's pact with the city's police union to get cops an 11 percent raise as well as retroactive pay, blasting the move as an election-cycle stunt.

Tuesday afternoon, Fioretti tweeted a link to a fundraiser to take place Sept. 16.

This mean he's running?

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