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Karen Lewis “Seriously Considering” Mayoral Run

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Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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UPDATE: 10:30 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — In her strongest language yet, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis admitted Tuesday she is seriously considering running for mayor, on the same day she is promised $1 million if she does.

Rahm Emanuel seems to be saying bring it on and Karen Lewis isn’t backing down. CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports Lewis was dropping hint after hint about which way she’s leaning and what it would take to convince her to run.

Karen Lewis’ coming out party was held at a Beverly restaurant before a friendly crowd, many in red teachers union tee shirts, a group that clearly wanted her to run.

“Before I was just thinking about it now I am seriously considering it,” Lewis told the crowd.

But she maintained she wasn’t there, yet. Though speaking with CBS 2 afterward, it’s clear a possible campaign was taking shape

“We do intend to circulate petitions we need to know if people want that to happen. If we get enough petitions that will make actually kind of makethat decision for,” she said.

Lewis said registered for an exploratory committee Tuesday, the same day she was offered serious cash for a campaign from American Federation of Teachers. “…both the voters in Chicago and our union think she would be a good candidate.” President Randi Weingarten said, “…spending of up to $1 million wouldn’t be unprecedented.”

Downtown Tuesday night, Alderman Bob Fioretti was also raising money. He’s also thinking about running. He said he will make a decision by September 15.

Earlier in the day, Mayor Emanuel visited a CPS elementary school to try to blunt the criticism he knew was coming.

“Dealing with the consolidation of the schools was one of the toughest if not the toughest thing I had to deal with,” Emanuel said. “But what was also tough is seeing a school system that had the shortest school day and the shortest school year.”

Already announced mayoral candidates are Frederick Collins, Amara Enyia, William Kelly, and Robert Shaw.

An Emanuel vs Lewis race would center on education policy, with the mayor arguing he’s improved test scores and graduation rates by closing schools which are half empty or underperforming and Lewis arguing against any school closings, but having to show why it’s about more than union members jobs.

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