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Toni Preckwinkle slams the door shut on challenging Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

For Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, it is the worst of times (yesterday), followed by the best of times (today). Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced emphatically today that she will not challenge Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel, reported the Chicago Sun Times. The announcement by Preckwinkle comes on the heels of a Chicago Sun Times poll published yesterday that showed Preckwinkle would have handily defeated Emanuel by 24 points, in a stunning finding. That was yesterday.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle (left) has decided not to challenge Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (right) next February. A recent poll show Preckwinkle leading Emanuel by 24 points.
(Cook County government page)

Today is a new day for Emanuel, with this announcement from Preckwinkle that was followed by one of Emanuel's famous press releases known for touting successes. In the release, Emanuel said, "Toni Preckwinkle has been a strong partner in tackling many of the challenges facing Chicago neighborhoods, and an outspoken voice for criminal justice and pension reform. The unprecedented cooperation between the City and County has produced more than $65 million in taxpayer savings, a reformed workforce board that's finding jobs for more Chicagoans, and expanded partnership to expand minority and women-owned businesses."

In an obvious reference to some of their disagreements and an obvious shot at one of his potential opponents, CTU President Karen Lewis, Emanuel acknowledged, "I agree that we have more work to do together on these and other issues so that we can find ways to improve Chicago and Cook County for everybody."

In her press conference in making the announcement, Preckwinkle told reporters that her poll numbers accelerated this. Some reports said that Preckwinkle was "heartbroken" about the decision. She denied it, "I’m not heartbroken. It was a decision that was clear to me for some time that I needed to make and, as I said, the Sun-Times basically forced my hand. If they hadn’t published those poll results, I don’t think the questions would have been of the same volume, intensity, and frequency, whatever. But given the poll results, I think it was going to be hard to get people to focus on anything else we were doing, because the questions would all be about the mayor's race."

Adding even more intrigue to Chicago's mayoral contest, Preckwinkle's withdrawal clears the field for Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who is Emanuel's declared enemy. While there are some other announced candidates, none of them are considered serious.

Lewis is considered a serious and viable candidate. The same Chicago Sun Times poll showed Lewis leading Emanuel with 9 percentage points in a head-to-head contest. "It changes the playing field. It certainly is a huge change," Lewis told the Chicago Sun Times political reporter Natasha Korecki. "I'm not going to allow somebody to back me into a decision. I'm going to make this decision when I'm ready to make it."

All indications are that Lewis will indeed make the run, unless something unforeseen occurs. The petition drives will be starting shortly, so candidates getting into the race will need to get their ducks in a row.

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