Amara Enyia’s campaign for Chicago mayor made national news last week after Chance the Rapper announced that he would endorse the West Side resident, giving her bid to replace incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel some significant traction.
“Chicago needs new leadership, it needs a new mayor, so I’m proud to announce that I will not be running for mayor,” Chance said during an Oct. 16 press conference at City Hall, squelching rumors that he would jump in the crowded field, which includes roughly two dozen contenders, himself.
Instead, the Grammy-winning rapper said, he plans to transfer his star power to Enyia, the head of the Austin Chamber of Commerce who many political observers and media pundits consider a long-shot.
“If I back you, you have a chance, absolutely,” Chance said. “I want to work with somebody that’s about change, somebody that’s about our community.’
Enyia said that she and the rapper have “been in the trenches on the city’s behalf,” before listing the various social activism campaigns that the two have participated in some capacity — from the #NoCopAcademy protests against a planned police training facility on the West Side to organizing against the closure of 50 CPS schools to mental health advocacy.
“This is our chance to break away, no pun intended, from the status quo,” Enyia said. “[This is our] chance to set forth a vision that gives hope to youth, stability to adults and safety and security to our seniors.”
After last week’s endorsement, Chance’s father, former Emanuel mayoral aide Ken Bennett, released a statement of his own reinforcing his support for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who is also running for mayor.
“I’m immensely proud of my son Chance, not only for pursuing his success with a clear, individual point of view but for continuing to use his success to advocate for his City,” Bennett stated. “We may have different views on this race, but we share an unshakable love for each other and this city.”
Bennett said of Preckwinkle that “there is no one else who has the experience, expertise and work ethic to bring real reform to our City.”
During a Facebook Live question and answer session on Oct. 17, Enyia acknowledged that the endorsement “is a huge boon to our campaign,” before explaining how her political relationship with the famous rapper has evolved since they first met not too long ago.
“Chance apparently has been a fan of mine for quite some time and I’ve been a fan of his for a while, too, but we never met each other,” she said. “We were never formally introduced until a short while ago.”
Enyia said that she and Chance “found ourselves in some of the same spaces, which is interesting.” The rapper, she said, reached out to her “out of the blue” to talk about what’s necessary for the city.
“The endorsement is the result of those initial connections,” Enyia said, before emphasizing that Chance’s announcement would not be the typical celebrity political endorsement.
“I think for a lot of people who might be wondering, ‘What’s the significance of a celebrity endorsement?’ To that I say that Chance and I have been very intentional about this not being a flash in the pan,” she said.
“We are actually going to be partnering throughout the duration of the campaign,” she said. “This is actually the first step, the ground level.”
Enyia said that a critical aspect of her campaign will focus on expanding the electorate beyond the 30 percent of likely voters that typically show up for city elections.
“We see our campaign as a way of not just changing whoever is on the fifth floor of City Hall, but about getting more people excited about being involved [in the political process],” she said, adding that her campaign will do “a lot of voter education and voter registration. We also have a huge [Get Out the Vote] strategy for registration and election day. That really sets our campaign apart.”