Chicago's Lefty on Lefty Hatin'

-By Warner Todd Huston

This has been an interesting election cycle we are living through, hasn’t it? But another interesting one is soon to unfold in Chicago as the Mayor’s seat becomes up for grabs next year.

The fun has already begun here in Chi-Town. Not long ago, for instance, an amusing little episode of lefty on lefty hatin’ erupted in Chicago between long-time racebaiting activist and Congressman Luis Gutierrez and AFSCME President Gerry McEntee that is simply too delicious to ignore.

Ordinarily, you’d think that a left-wing, Democrat congressman would be fast friends with the president of one of America’s biggest public employees unions. But these two titans of leftism have found themselves embroiled in local Chicago politics. Despite the assumptions of normal politics, Gutierrez and McEntee ran afoul of each other over next year’s election for Chicago’s mayor. McEntee made the mistake of too quickly coming to the support of former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel just as Gutierrez was talking about forming an exploratory committee for his own run for mayor…

… and fireworks erupted.

As it happens McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told Politico that he would support Rahm. “If I lived in Chicago, I would vote for him for mayor,” McEntee said.

McEntee is a heavy weight in Democrat circles. In 2007, for instance, he said that he was “the sheriff of the incumbent-protection program” because of all the millions that AFSCME donated to Democrat politics.

As to Gutierrez, early in October he formed an exploratory committee to see if he had a shot at the big seat in City Hall. When he heard about what McEntee said, he blew a gasket.

Mike Elk of a pro-labor website had a sit down with Luis Gutierrez and he had quite a lot to say about McEntee’s early support of Emanuel. “I’m shocked that Gerry McEntee would endorse Rahm Emanuel, considering what Rahm has done to working people,” he told the writer.

“This is the same Rahm Emanuel who said ‘Fuck the UAW!’ ” Gutierrez characterized McEntee’s endorsement of Emanuel as “a disgrace to the labor movement. … What about all my years paying dues as an AFSCME member or all those year walking picket lines as Congressman? I guess that counts for nothing,” Gutierrez continued.

But McEntee wasn’t taking it all lying down, either. He shot back to the editor of the lefty pro-labor site letting him know in no uncertain terms that he was unhappy over the airing of the hard feelings between he and Gutierrez.

McEntee is apparently quite upset about criticism of his decision to endorse Rahm. Sirota said he “received a profanity-laced call from McEntee telling me I “have no right” to have written what I wrote, and that I have no right to question the decisions he makes.” McEntee told me that “these pundits and potential candidates who criticize Rahm are ignoring what the Obama team has delivered for working families all across this country.”

Awwww. It’s a circular firing squad over there on the extreme fringes of uniondom, isn’t it?

And all the hard feelings are now for naught. Turns out Gutierrez has decided not to run for mayor after all.

Likely it’s all sound and fury signifying nothing because as more and more local Chicagoans drop bids to run against Emanuel, what are the chances that Gutierrez continues his mad-on about Rahm? Not much. Like a good little lefty, Gutierrez will go ahead and endorse Emanuel anyway. It’s all set up from the top, anyway, isn’t it?

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