CHICAGO, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, heralded by angered Chicago voters as the candidate to unseat Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has bowed out of the mayoral race.
Lewis, one of Emanuel's most prominent political opponents, was reportedly diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor after she experienced a severe headache on Oct. 5.
"Karen Lewis has decided to not pursue a mayoral bid," said Jay Travis, the head of Lewis' mayoral exploratory committee. "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."
Lewis, 61, has repeatedly butted heads with Emanuel since he took office in 2011. And in 2012, she became a leading choice to challenge him after she led a seven-day strike of the school system.
Voters were even more furious with the mayor when he directed the school board to close 49 schools and a high school program, which critics said disproportionately affected black students.
A poll in July found Lewis leading Emanuel 45 percent to 36 percent of likely voters, with 18 percent of voters undecided.
Emanuel, who will have a much easier time at getting re-elected without Lewis on the ballot, sent her his best wishes.
"I have always respected and admired Karen's willingness to step up and be part of the conversation about our city's future, but nothing is more important than a person's health," he said in a statement. "Along with all Chicagoans, I will keep Karen and her family in our thoughts and prayers, and we look forward to seeing her on her feet very soon."
With County Board President Toni Preckwinkle already decided against running, Ald. Bob Fioretti is the only challenger remaining in the race for February's election.