It’s been another violent summer in Chicago.
Victims included 11-year-old Shamiya Adams, whose family is raising money for a funeral after the girl was killed by a stray bullet July 18 while making s’mores during a sleepover at a friend’s house. Shamiya didn’t make it to sixth grade.
Police charged an 18-year-old in Shamiya’s slaying, saying he fired aimlessly into a building to avenge a young friend’s beating in a fistfight.
As the toll of the bloodshed mounts, there are indications it may spread to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election, according to experts.
News coverage of Emanuel’s poll plunge failed to note that the survey showing the worst news for the mayor was conducted following the bloody Fourth of July weekend.
The city’s violence, back in the national spotlight two years after some news outletsincorrectly called Chicago America’s “murder capital,” is a major factor in Emanuel’s unpopularity, according to Dick Simpson, a University of Illinois-Chicago political science professor and former city alderman.
Violent crime typically dips during cold weather, coinciding with the mayoral election in February. But Simpson said he doesn’t believe voters’ attitudes on the problem will change significantly “unless there is some major break — and I don’t see what that would be.”
Emanuel’s popularity also has been plagued by mass closings of public schools, largely in black and Latino neighborhoods, and “the general problem of the perceived arrogance and unwillingness to have citizens involved in making decisions about the city,” Simpson said.
Still, Emanuel faces no announced challengers, and none of the likely contenders can rival the former White House chief of staff’s experience and fundraising prowess.
“The polls show Rahm is not invincible,” Simpson said. He noted that both Mayor Richard Daleys presided over the city for decades, taking on airs of invincibility, even though Chicago was plagued by even worse violence.
“But the old saying is, you can’t beat somebody with nobody,” Simpson added.
One potential challenger who topped Emanuel in the recent Chicago Sun-Times pollwas Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union. Lewis rescheduled her annual Hawaii vacation from December to July this year, saying she’s “seriously considering” challenging Emanuel.