Robert Fioretti

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Robert Fioretti

b. March 8, 1953

Chicago, 2nd Ward Alderman (2007-2015)
Chicago, 2nd Ward Democratic Committeeman (2008-2016)

Robert "Bob" Fioretti was a bit of a contradiction in his ward. A white civil rights attorney, until it was redistricted in 2012, he represented a traditionally Black ward. Already a well-established attorney in Chicago, Fioretti was a newcomer on the Chicago electoral political scene in 2007. He was backed by Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr in the race against incumbent Madeline Haithcock when Jackson, Jr was still publicly mulling a run for mayor. That strategy resulted in several new aldermen, including Fioretti. Fioretti also faced Kenny Johnson, Larry Doody and David Askew in the aldermanic primary. The latter two eventually endorsed Haithcock in the 2007 runoff, which didn't help her enough as Fioretti managed to defeat her.

Kenny Johnson supported Fioretti in the 2007 runoff election, and in the 2008 Democratic Primary Fioretti supported Johnson in a losing campaign for state representative against William Burns.

In 2008 Fioretti ran uncontested for 2nd Ward Democratic Committeeman after Congressman Bobby Rush announced he was stepping down. Rush, whose control over the ward was once uncontested, had seen his ward radically change over three decades. Part of the reason for the 2nd Ward's odd shape, that Rush lived in the southern-most precinct, and the ward was designed to keep him in it.

A founding member of the Progressive Caucus, Fioretti became a vocal opponent of Mayor Rahm Emanuel after his 2011 election, taking every media opportunity to swipe at the Mayor. Payback came in 2012, after Council leaders allied with Emanuel rolled out a ward remap that not only mapped Fioretti out of his ward, but moved the 2nd Ward from the South Side to the North Side and into an impossibly gerrymandered district with no real constituency.

The die cast, Fioretti was the first to announce his 2015 mayoral opposition campaign against Emanuel. But without the support of labor and no real constituency of his own, Fioretti's mayoral campaign sputtered, putting him into fourth place in a five-way race with less than 10% of the vote.

In a surprise move to just about everyone who had been listening to his vociferous opposition to Emanuel, Fioretti endorsed Emanuel over Jesus "Chuy" Garcia in the runoff election, which later seemed to be a trade for Emanuel to sponsor a fundraiser later to clear Fioretti's campaign debts.

A few months after the 2015 election, Fioretti announced his challenge to State Senate incumbent Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, who had suffered some recent bad press. But Fioretti, banking on his close ties with and name recognition among Black West Siders, never caught fire and lost to Van Pelt Watkins 68-32%.

Employment and Electoral History

Fioretti grew up in the Roseland/Pullman area. One of his most famous cases came in 2006, when he settled a case for a client who spent 11-and-a-half years in prison for a crime he did not commit, and was cleared based on DNA evidence, eventually being pardoned by the Governor. Fioretti also served as lawyer for the family of Baby Tamia, which led to changes in Illinois’ adoption law. The Chicago mother of Baby Tamia phoned a toll-free number in a local newspaper for an adoption agency in Utah. The baby was temporarily placed in foster care in Utah with a parent who had a prior drug conviction. For several months, Fioretti worked with state and local officials to return Baby Tamia to her family.

Education

  • University of Illinois, B.A.
  • Northern Illinois University College of Law, J.D.

Important Political Events

  • 2007, Elected 2nd Ward Alderman, defeating incumbent Madeline Haithcock to become the first white 2nd Ward alderman in 100 years
  • 2008, Elected 2nd Ward Democratic Committeeman, replacing Bobby Rush
  • 2015, Defeated for Mayor by Rahm Emanuel
  • 2016, Defeated for State Senate by Patricia Van Pelt Watkins
  • 2016, Retired 2nd Ward Democratic Committeeman, replaced by Tim Egan

Sources

http://aldertrack.typepad.com/aldertrack/2007/04/chicago_tonight_1.html
http://www.chicago2ndward.com/index.html
http://chicagoist.com/2007/03/22/west_side_story.php
http://www.iviipo.org/questionnaires/2007/2%20Bob%20Fioretti.pdf