Toni Preckwinkle may be the darling of SEIU Local 1, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 881 and, she hopes, the Chicago Teachers Union.
But Susana Mendoza has Dolores Huerta.
The woman who joined Cesar Chavez in 1962 in co-founding the National Farm Workers Association and has been fighting for immigrants and working families ever since, endorsed Mendoza Wednesday in a digital ad released by the Mendoza campaign.
“The work of my life has been standing up for workers, immigrants, women, human rights, and civil rights,” Huerta was quoted as saying in the ad.
“Susana Mendoza is the next generation to carry on this fight. She’s a battle-tested fighter who champions the little guy and is an experienced, committed, and hardworking visionary. Sí, se puede con Susana Mendoza.”
Mendoza, who is on a long-planned vacation, could not be reached for comment.
In a campaign press release, Mendoza describes Huerta as a “personal hero and role model throughout my life” and said she was “honored to have her endorsement.”
“Dolores is a tireless fighter who has spent her life standing up for women, worker, and immigrant rights. As mayor, I will be a steadfast advocate for the social justice causes we both believe in and never back down when our values are under threat,” Mendoza was quoted as saying.
“With the support of Dolores and grassroots activists like her across Chicago, I know we can tackle the big challenges we face, put our neighborhoods first, and lift up every community across our city.”
In order to do that, Mendoza must first survive a strong petition challenge from Preckwinkle that threatens to knock her off the ballot.
Preckwinkle election lawyer Keri-Lyn Krafthefer has challenged the validity of 16,746 of the 25,660 signatures that Mendoza submitted a week ago.
That would drop Mendoza well below the legal requirement of 12,500 signatures.
“A lot of different candidates have identified the same flaws as we have,” she said.
Mendoza’s supporters have accused Preckwinkle and other mayoral opponents of ganging up on her to keep her out of the race.
Declaring Mendoza to be the “frontrunner” in the race for mayor, her campaign co-chairs Marty Castro and Kathy Byrne predicted the effort to discredit Mendoza’s nominating petitions will fail.
As for the battle for union endorsements, they’re only as good as the money and manpower they produce for the candidate.
SEIU Local 1 and UFCW Local 881 are certain to translate into money and manpower for Preckwinkle.
So would the CTU — just as it gave millions to vanquished mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the 2015 mayoral race –– assuming the union’s House of Delegates goes along with the recommendation of the union’s executive board.
But Huerta’s endorsement may be little more than one highly-regarded labor leader’s opinion.
SEIU Local 1 is part of a group of unions that now owns the Chicago Sun-Times.
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