CHICAGO – Mayor Rahm Emanuel launched a campaign video attacking his new opponent former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
The new ad shows footage from 2015 of President Donald Trump praising McCarthy and calling him a “phenomenal guy.”
McCarthy fired back at the mayor on Thursday and said Emanuel was “lying about basic facts.”
“Well, I’ve certainly got the Mayor’s attention,” McCarthy said in an emailed statement from his campaign. “He obviously realizes that my ideas and my campaign are powerful and will put an end to his Administration. As usual, Rahm is lying about basic facts to hide a record of high taxes, poorly performing schools and unsafe streets.”
McCarthy went on to say that President Trump has had "a disastrous, chaotic presidency."
McCarthy's announcement pits him against his former boss, Emanuel, in the February 2019 election. Emanuel fired McCarthy in 2015 as an effort to restore public confidence in the police force and his administration, just days after the court-ordered release of the video showing Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times.
The next mayor will have three major issues to deal with: Schools, jobs and crime.
The high-level of violent crime presents the newest candidate with an opening.
McCarthy is a native New Yorker with high name recognition and a reputation for blunt honesty. However, the ad released by the campaign links the former top cop to another brash voice from the Big Apple—Trump.
“I think it makes the race much more interesting,” Dick Simpson, a University of Illinois at Chicago political science professor, said. “It’s really a vendetta because he was fired by the mayor.”
Simpson said the heavyweight battle could quickly become a political street-fight.
“He’ll certainly give Mayor Emanuel fits because – as we say in the trade – he knows where the bodies are buried.”
Both men share the same vulnerability with voters: The mishandling of the Laquan McDonald shooting, which touched off sustained protests, calls for resignations and a federal investigation.
“He would have the Laquan McDonald issue hanging over his head,” Simpson said.
In a city of clear racial divisions, Simpson said the two candidates could split the white vote, opening the door to a third “consensus” candidate – possibly a minority or female.
“When you start breaking up the racial vote, you really make it a free for all,” Simpson said.
There are a potentially a dozen or more people mulling a bid for mayor – including high profile female candidates and several with extensive backgrounds in education.
“I’m not sure we’ve seen the last of the new mayoral candidates just yet, so it’s a little hard to handicap them, but if Paul Vallas and Bridget Gainer got in, it would split the white vote even more,” Simpson said.
It’s estimated that Emanuel will be able to raise about $30 million dollars for the campaign, and whoever emerges as his challenger will likely need at least a third of that amount to be competitive.