Since Rahm Emanuel avoided a runoff by winning 55 percent of the vote in Chicago's mayoral race, it was only a matter of time before he started looking for something to do with the $2 million in leftover campaign cash he has in the bank. And with 14 aldermanic races headed to run-offs on April 5, it's not surprising to hear that Emanuel plans to help out several of the candidates seeking a seat on the next City Council.
Emanuel will not be the only one throwing his money around. The shadow pro-business group For a Better Chicago (FBC), whose PAC was a major player in the first round of elections, promises to continue its influence peddling in the run-off elections. The two campaigns' involvement in the run-offs is no coincidence. FBC's leader, Greg Goldner, told the Tribune that the two groups were not running a coordinated campaign. But he said, "We're very supportive of Rahm and what he wants to accomplish and want to continue to drive and push him to follow through — and help move those same agenda items through the City Council."
While there is no formal link between the two campaigns (though Goldner managed Emanuel's 2002 campaign for Congress), the mayor-elect has reached out to seven candidates in runoffs, all of whom have been endorsed by FBC. Another connection: David Herro. The investment manager and his partner are the only two known contributors to FBC. Herro also gave Emanuel $65,000 and was recently named to his inaugural committee.
Candidates who have reportedly received calls from Emanuel pledging his support are Alds. Freddrenna Lyle (6th), Latasha Thomas (16th), JoAnn Thompson (17th), Daniel Solis (25th), John Rice (36th), Timothy Cullerton (38th), as well as 50th Ward challenger Debra Silverstein who is in a runoff with incumbent Bernard Stone. The only FBC-backed candidate yet to receive Emanuel's support is 20th Ward Ald. Willie Cochran, who is in a run-off with Che "Rhymefest" Smith. (Full disclosure: The SEIU State Council, which sponsors this site, has endorsed Lyle, Cullerton, and Silverstein.)