The Chicago Federation of Labor has released its list of endorsements in the municipal elections. “Working men and women deserve a strong, independent voice in the City Council,” federation president Dennis Gannon said in a statement accompanying the list on the CFL's Web site. “The CFL will do everything it takes to elect those men and women who will fight for working families and the issues important to them.”
The federation—along with several locals of the Service Employees International Union that are CFL members—has vowed for months to get rid of aldermen who, in its view, aren’t looking out for the city’s workers. Opponents of the big-box minimum wage ordinance were named as top targets; even before Mayor Daley vetoed the measure in September, some union leaders announced that they were going to provide labor-friendly challengers with campaign armies and cash.
But it turns out that the “strong, independent” council envisioned by the federation isn’t a whole lot different from the current one. Among the CFL’s endorsed candidates are 31 incumbent aldermen, including Helen Shiller (46th), who voted to support Mayor Daley’s veto; Manny Flores (1st), who skipped the veto vote; Michelle A. Harris (8th), plucked from the Stroger family’s ward organization and appointed by the mayor this fall; John Pope (10th), elected with the aid of the Hispanic Democratic Organization; William Banks (36th), a heavyweight in the Cook County Democratic Party; and a large collection of others who have supported the mayor on about 90 percent of the council’s divided roll call votes.
The CFL does pledge support to ten challengers, among them Pat Dowell, who's trying to unseat 3rd Ward alderman Dorothy Tillman; Sandi Jackson, wife of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who hopes to take out 7th Ward alderman and recent appointee Darcel Beavers, the daughter of longtime alderman William Beavers; and Carina Sanchez, who's vying for the 12th Ward seat now held by George Cardenas, who at the mayor's behest flipped from supporting to opposing the minimum wage ordinance.
In nine other wards the federation opted not to endorse anyone. The decision probably makes sense in places like the 11th and 29th Wards, where local Democratic organizations aren’t going to be beaten. But the CFL is also taking a pass in several wards now led by big-box ordinance opponents who might be vulnerable: the 2nd, where Madeline Haithcock is fighting for her political career; the 25th, whose alderman, Danny Solis, also flipped to help the mayor on the minimum wage; and the 37th, which under alderman Emma Mitts became home to Chicago's first Wal-Mart.
None of the mayoral challengers received an endorsement either. While on one level that’s a dig at Daley, on the street it simply adds up to one more source of volunteers and money that Dorothy Brown and William "Dock" Walls will have to do without.