CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel took some time off from running the city on Wednesday to campaign for a colleague up north, in Wisconsin, where the governor is facing a recall election later this year.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine, who traveled to Milwaukee in search of Emanuel, reports the mayor took some ribbing from the cheeseheads, though it was all behind tightly closed doors.
These are tumultuous political times in Wisconsin. The state’s primary election is just around the corner, and Gov. Scott Walker is facing a recall election after passing a state law that severely limits union bargaining rights in Wisconsin.
But as the headline of Wednesday’s fundraiser, Emanuel proved a bit elusive.
Several dozen Occupy movement activists and other demonstrators protested the mayor’s appearance at a fundraiser for his Milwaukee counterpart, Tom Barrett, who is considering a challenge against Walker in the recall election.
But protesters never saw Emanuel and he never heard their chants.
Dick Malmin, with the Coalition Against NATO/G8, said, “I’m protesting Rahm Emanuel’s war on the First Amendment.”
Malmin said the difficulty anti-war protesters have faced trying to obtain parade permits for the NATO Summit is an attack on free speech. He and others were kept behind police lines, far from where Emanuel’s two SUVs were spotted as they waited to make a quick exit after the mayor’s speech at a Barrett fundraiser.
Barrett supporter Paul Mathews said, “Our mayor considers Chicago a suburb of Milwaukee.”
Mathews said Emanuel took that news “in very good stride.”
Barrett, who also came and went without being seen, is both running for re-election and widely expected to run to replace Walker in the upcoming recall election.
Barrett’s brother, John Barrett, said his brother hasn’t told Emanuel his plans as far as the Walker recall election.
“I don’t know that he let on to his plans there, or not,” John Barrett said. “I don’t think he’s let too many people in on those plans, as his brother will testify.”
Reporters didn’t get the chance to ask Emanuel about his meeting with Barrett, as he left the event the same way he arrived – unseen.
The mayor spent barely an hour in Milwaukee, before returning to Chicago for a full afternoon of appointments at City Hall.