Troy LaRaviere Drops Out of Mayoral Race With Parting Shot at Kanye West

The former Chicago Public Schools principal was the first candidate to enter the race last year and the first to end his campaign

Troy LaRaviere ended his campaign for Chicago mayor on Tuesday, penning a letter in which he revealed that he had been approached by Kanye West but chose not to pursue the rapper's backing based on West's support for President Donald Trump.

LaRaviere said in the lengthy letter posted on his website that he would be unable to collect the 12,500 signatures required to get on the ballot in the race.

"Unfortunately, however, it appears we’re going to come up short. The responsibility for this is ultimately my own," LaRaviere wrote. "With two weeks left in the petition process, it would require more money than we’ve been able to raise in an entire year."

LaRaviere added that he would have needed a "massive influx of organized petitioners" and then funds to pay for legal costs of defending any challenges to his signatures.

Thus, the former Chicago Public Schools principal and president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association said he would begin to wind down the campaign, sharing what he called "two of the most important" lessons he learned.

The first was integrity, which he said was tested when "staff of an entertainment mogul and hip-hop artist contacted my campaign because the artist wanted to meet with me."

"Unfortunately, this particular artist had recently come out as an avid and bombastic supporter of Donald Trump," LaRaviere wrote, adding that he decided to take the meeting in order to tell West in person that he could not accept his support so long as he was aligned with Trump.

"I also politely and subtly suggested that if he wanted to meet, he needed to come to my space (as opposed to me going to his)," LaRaviere said. "Symbolically I could not move toward a Trump supporter; if he wanted to talk, he needed to move toward me."

"His camp must have sensed my reluctance because they eventually stopped reaching out for the meeting," he added. West has since donated $200,000 to the mayoral campaign of community activist Amara Enyia, after fellow Chicago native Chance the Rapper endorsed her.

LaRaviere - who was both the first to announce his campaign in November 2017, and the first candidate to exit the race - said the second lesson he learned was about building a progressive consensus.

A longtime outspoken critic of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a supporter of Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia's campaign in 2015, LaRaviere said he stepped into the race so early "in hopes of preventing at least one of the mistakes" of the past by building a progressive coalition.

He noted that he launched his campaign before Emanuel's surprise announcement that he would not seek a third term, with LaRaviere saying he "never backed down from a fight, even when it seemed impossible, even when I had everything to lose."

However, LaRaviere said he was disappointed that certain organizations and politicians, which he did not name, "did not step up to ensure any progressive candidate got on the ballot," and instead took a wait-and-see approach in the election.

"That’s not how the rich and powerful - the one percent - approach elections. They don’t wait and see," he wrote. "They find candidates who will carry their issues and they put the resources behind them to ensure those candidates - and their interests - make it on the ballot. That’s why they win, and that’s why our government works for them, and not for us."

While LaRaviere ended his run for mayor, he said he will continue his work as president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association and did not rule out a future run for office.

"I entered the public stage out of a sense of duty," he wrote. "I put it all out there, and now I’m looking forward to leaving that stage. Perhaps duty will call me back to it at some point."

Eighteen other candidates remain in the race, with petitions due on Nov. 26 and the first election - with a runoff all but guaranteed - slated for Feb. 26.

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