Chicago Teacher's Union president Karen Lewis

A day after the head of the American Federation of Teachers pledged $1 million toward a potential mayoral candidacy of Chicago Teachers’ Union President Karen Lewis, the CTU chief registered a political action committee with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The contribution was made last week by AFT President Randi Weingarten. Lewis herself is listed as chairman of the committee — Citizens to Elect Karen Lewis. 

Brandon Johnson, a political organizer with the CTU, is listed on registration papers as the committee’s treasurer. Funds for the committee, according to the paperwork, will be deposited at Seaway Bank & Trust Company, a Chicago-based community bank whose branches include in Bronzeville, Chatham and Lawndale.

So far, there has been no money deposited in the campaign fund. In the event that the committee is terminated or dissolved, the residual funds it raised would go to the American Red Cross. 

In addition to forming the political action committee, Lewis has also said that her team will soon begin the process of circulating the nominating petitions that are necessary to put her on the ballot. Candidates for next year’s election are allowed to begin circulating the petitions on Aug. 26. 

Should she decide to run, Lewis will have quite a bit of catching up to do. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is already sitting on $8 million in cash, and in June his political allies formed the super PAC Chicago Forward, to raise additional funds for his reelection bid. Lewis, the longtime CTU leader, has not formally announced a mayoral bid but has been taking steps in that direction. 

Speaking at Austin’s LEADER’s Network monthly meeting Aug. 12, Lewis said the likelihood of her running was “50/50” and estimated that she’d need to raise $7-10 million for the raise. 


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