'Our work is not about one leader, one race, or one election. Our work is about building progressive power to restore participatory democracy to Chicago...' Campaign office announces that Karen Lewis will not run for mayor of Chicago

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis will not continue in her bid to unseat Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the coordinator of Lewis's "exploratory committee" announced on Monday, October 13, 2014. Lewis had been under treatment for what is being called a "serious illness" at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for more than a week, and underwent surgery on Wednesday, October 8. The family has requested that the details of Lewis's serious illness not be disclosed, and most Chicago media people have honored that request.

In addition to leading the Chicago Teachers Union since 2010, Karen Lewis has become a national leader in the fight for justice, equity, and public schools. Above, on July 12, 2014, Lewis joined with Asean Johnson (then a ten-year-old CPS student) at the podium at the national convention of the American Federation of Teachers. While Johnson spoke, Karen Lewis (left), Jitu Brown (third from left), Randi Weingarten (second from right) and Loretta Johnson (right) looked on. Substance photo by Kati Gilson.Jhatayn Jay Travis, coordinator of the Karen Lewis Exploratory Committee, issued the following statement on the Committee's Facebook page Monday:

On behalf of Karen Lewis and her exploratory committee, I want to first and foremost thank the teachers, sanitation workers, social workers, librarians, parents, police officers, firefighters, youth, artists, school clerks, grandparents, bus drivers, workers, and retirees who collected tens of thousands of signatures for Karen Lewis. Your support rang out from every corner of this city, demanding new leadership at the highest level of city government.

Karen Lewis has decided to not pursue a mayoral bid. Yet she charges us to continue fighting for strong neighborhood schools, safe communities, and good jobs for everyone.

The tens of thousands of signatures collected for Karen confirm what the polls have already said: Chicagoans from Beverly to Uptown want to feel safe in their neighborhoods; they want an elected representative school board; and they want political leadership at every level that is responsive and responsible.

Our work is not about one leader, one race, or one election. Our work is about building progressive power to restore participatory democracy to Chicago. The groundswell of grassroots support is a testament to the strength of our movement and to the depth of dissatisfaction that hardworking Chicagoans have with the top-down, out-of-touch leadership in City Hall.

Together, we are changing the political landscape. We must hold our public officials at every level accountable for their track records on school closings, unemployment, violence, and nickel-and-diming working families.

"Lewis, 61, had been seen as a potentially strong challenger to Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the February election," the Chicago Tribune began reporting at around five o'clock on the afternoon of October 13. "Her series of speaking engagements around the city was interrupted last week when she was hospitalized after becoming sick at home. Union officials said she underwent surgery and was suffering from a 'serious illness,' but have provided few other details about what is wrong with her."

Despite concerns for Lewis's health, her campaign people had increased circulation of nominating petitions during the week she was hospitalized. Supporters reported that the Lewis petitions already had more than enough signatures to get her on the ballot for the February 24, 2015 election. In order to run for mayor, a candidate needs to get at least 12,500 valid signatures on nominating petitions and turn them in to the Board of Election Commissioners between November 17 and November 24.

More than a dozen news reports had been issued by seven p.m. on October 13. This story will be updated as necessary.

Readers who wish to read more from the exploratory committee can find it at:


October 14, 2014 at 12:04 PM

By: Sharon Schmidt

Karen Lewis prayers

In church yesterday, our pastor preached on the apostle Paul's words to the Christians in Philippi: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

I'm trying not to be anxious. Like many, many others I'm praying. But today when I got to school I locked the doors of my car but left it running. (The engineer noticed. Fortunately, a custodian fixed the problem).

So, I guess I'm not at peace. I'm pretty anxious. But I'll continue to thank God for Karen and pray for her and our city.

October 14, 2014 at 10:20 PM

By: Susan Ohanian

Karen Lewis

I applaud Substance for respecting the wishes of Karen Lewis' family and allowing them their privacy. Meanwhile, I'm sending Karen my good wishes. She had given hope to everyone who cares about public schools, and I know Chicago teachers will continue to stand up to corrupt money interests.

October 15, 2014 at 11:20 PM

By: Joan Staples

Karen Lewis's illness

I thought that Substance does not allow anonymous postings. "karen lover"'s comment is a new low. It is more like some of the other despicable blogs I sometimes see. You are free to disagree with policies, whoever you are, but don't hide behind some pseudonym.

October 16, 2014 at 5:31 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Ugly comments at Substance

We deleted the anonymous comment from "karen lover" as soon as we got back on line. We always police comments and almost on a daily basis we have to delete comments like the one posted attacking Karen Lewis, probably by Kris Rudinski, a former union delegate who has been obsessing about a couple of us for years. We will check deeper as to who posted that truly ugly comment to verify our suspicion, but that takes a little more time. Meanwhile, as you can guess, the email address was also fraudulent. Such attacks are truly the work of a sick coward. But that is why we don't allow anonymous or pseudononymous or Troll comments here.

October 17, 2014 at 10:37 AM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

It's not about one leader

That out work is not about one leader is so true though very hard to keep in mind at this time. The media's penchant for creating celebrity works against keeping it in mind. Of course, Karen in all her complexities was so easy to celebrate (as well as demonize for those so inclined). My hope and belief is that she has much more to come back with and will do so in good time, but in the meantime the rest of us will do the job.

October 17, 2014 at 2:20 PM

By: Bob Busch

It is not 1950 folks.

After years of scrimping and counting pennies

our last kid was off to college.My wife came back to what she loved best and became a teacher again.The letter from the lab was direct.Your mammogram showed abnormalities

and should be read by your doctor.

The biopsy results were positive:breast cancer.That was eight years ago.While the

curse of cancer is real,so are the medical

advancements.this is not 1950 Ms Lewis

We will all see you again in your red sweater

where you belong at the head of the Chicago Teachers Union.

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