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Former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has endorsed Rahm Emanuel’s opponent in a runoff for the Chicago mayoralty, Cook County Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” García.

“When I ran for president in 2004, I told supporters in my stump speech that I represented the ‘Democratic wing of the Democratic Party’ — a line inspired by Paul Wellstone that captured the spirit of my grassroots campaign,” Dean, who made a bid for the White House in 2004, wrote in an email sent out by Democracy for America (DFA), an outside advocacy group he founded and that is now chaired by his brother Jim.

{mosads}“Jesús “Chuy” García is running a similar people-powered campaign in Chicago and that’s why I am proud to announce that I am endorsing him as the progressive choice to be Chicago’s next mayor.”

The endorsement comes as progressive groups are trying to boost Garcia in a campaign that was written off by some before Emanuel failed to get the more than 50 percent of the vote he needed to avoid an April 7 runoff.

MoveOn, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and and the DFA have all backed Garcia. They are painting Emanuel as a mayor for the wealthiest Chicagoans, not poorer and minority residents, which resonates with their economic populist supporters.

The runoff has given that push new energy. After beating all of Emanuel’s challengers, García has a chance to consolidate opposition to Emanuel behind his candidacy. He also can appeal to national progressives for cash as he tries to compete with the well-funded Emanuel campaign.

Dean and Emanuel also have a difficult personal history. When Dean became DNC chairman, Emanuel was a critic of his decision to invest in all 50 states — instead arguing that the party should focus on places where they knew they had a chance to win.

But their relationship was reportedly thawing when Emanuel took over as President Obama’s chief of staff and the two men met

Tags Howard Dean Rahm Emanuel
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