Garcia-Emanuel Runoff in Chicago: Why Vote for Chuy?
David Hatch, executive director of Reclaim Chicago, explains the divided city of Chicago and what reclaiming the Chicago City Council on behalf of regular citizens will really mean
SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.
Polls in Chicago for the mayoral election close at 7:00PM this evening. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has challenged Rahm Emanuel, the incumbent mayor of Chicago, in an unprecedented runoff election. Emanuel, who is the former chief of staff to President Obama, is expected to win according to the recent polls available. But about 15% of the voters are undecided.
Here to discuss why he and his organization is backing Chuy Garcia is David Hatch. David Hatch is the executive director of Reclaim Chicago. Reclaim Chicago is a people’s-led movement to get corporate interests out of the city hall, and reclaim Chicago’s city council as a body that serves the interests of all the ordinary people that live there.
Thank you so much for joining me, Dave.
DAVID HATCH, EXEC. DIR. RECLAIM CHICAGO: Thank you.
PERIES: So let’s begin with why you and your organization is supporting Chuy Garcia.
HATCH: Well, this election I think is like a number of elections I’ve seen across the country and the globe, actually. I think it’s a rejection of corporate austerity politics. And Garcia has a long record, since the days of Harry Washington, of being the people’s candidate and supporting grassroots, people’s movement, and communities.
PERIES: And take us back. When you said he has a long history, what is that history?
HATCH: Well, he’s been an alderman in the city council, he’s been a state representative, and he’s been, is currently a commissioner of Cook County government. But he was one of Harold Washington’s lieutenants back in the Harold Washington days of Chicago, which is sort of a heyday for progressives that we hearken back to.
PERIES: And so tell me, your organization is very unique. It was recently formed, and it came out just in time to support Garcia’s campaign. Tell me a little bit about the organization and why you felt it necessary to form this organization and also to support Garcia in the way you are.
HATCH: Yes. So it’s a coalition of National Nurses United and the People’s Lobby, and we came together around a shared vision that politics as it’s been done really isn’t working for working people. It doesn’t include them, it doesn’t speak to their values and their issues and concerns and struggles, and so people are checking out. They’re staying home. And as a result, people who don’t have their interests are getting elected.
So we really wanted to do a new paradigm of politics that engaged people around a narrative, around an analysis, around what really concerns them, and not just sort of poll-tested messaging to them, to get them to vote for a candidate or a party.
PERIES: Right. Now, Chuy Garcia’s candidacy has many splits it has created. Labor unions appear to be split. People of color, African-Americans living in Chicago seem to be split. The Latino community is also split. Why are all these divides occurring around Chuy Garcia’s candidacy?
HATCH: Well, I think there’s a couple things there. I think, you know, there’s always a hesitance to go after power. They say if you, you know, if you go after the king, you better not miss. That’s especially true of Rahm, who’s very, you know, punitive and … not very gracious to his adversaries. So I think there’s a fear factor, in some cases.
But also I think this is, you know, there really is — this is a battle to overcome a lot of the racism that we face in America and politics. It’s clear that if we can actually unite working people across race and ethnicity, we win. We win all the time, every time. But there’s been actually, a lot of racism, I think, in the Emanuel campaign.
PERIES: And why make such a charge?
HATCH: Well, I think on the one hand, there’s been a clear message to white people that you can’t trust a Mexican-American to run a city and its complex finances and administration. Just pretty much an outright racist message that a lot of white working class people are rejecting. But you know, it’s definitely the message. And I think for African-Americans, it’s the Latinos will get a leg up on you and push you down even farther. There’s a lot of those dynamics, I think, at play.
PERIES: And in terms of Chuy Garcia’s candidacy, and those who are supporting him, as you have, has an enormous challenge when you take on, you know, corporate elite and the ruling elite, in terms of who leads and runs Chicago. The necessity for this kind of a challenge posed by Chuy Garcia is gaining momentum, but to what extent? How much of that undecided voters, 15% at this point, you expect to show up at the polls and support Garcia?
HATCH: Well, I actually have seen a trend, especially since the first round, when it was clear that Rahm was forced into a runoff, of energy that I haven’t seen actually since the days of Harold Washington. And I have seen some coming together of those elements. Of progressive whites, Latinos, and African-Americans coming together like I haven’t seen in a long time, which is very hopeful for the future.
I think that it definitely is trending in Garcia’s favor. There’s just been lots of energy. We see it in our work. We’ve done, by the end of today we’ll have done about 9,000 hours of volunteer canvassing on the phones and on the doors. And the energy level is, has just gotten increasingly high, and the passion has grown since February 24th.
I think the question is just turnout, and can we bring it home.
PERIES: All right. David Hatch, thank you so much for joining us today and giving us this update. I wish you all the best in your campaign efforts, and the ongoing success of your organization, a very important one.
HATCH: Thank you much.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.
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