Diagnosed with Cancer, Union President Lewis No Longer Contender in Chicago Mayoral Bid

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, a champion for public education and a vocal critic of corporate education reform, has been diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor and will not be able to run for office against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a source close to Lewis said on Monday.

On October 8, Lewis completed a successful five-hour surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where she is also scheduled to undergo a regimen of chemotherapy and radiation.

“Karen Lewis has decided to not pursue a mayoral bid,” Jay Travis, the head of her mayoral exploratory committee said in a statement. “Yet she charges us to continue fighting for strong neighborhood schools, safe communities and good jobs for everyone.”

A recent poll had Lewis leading Emanuel in the mayoral election 45 to 36 percent.

The 61-year-old has been a longtime advocate of Chicago public schools and was held up by many as a national figure in the fight against the privatization of public schools. She had come up against Emanuel on numerous occasions, most notably in the September 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike.