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The Daley impact

Monday, Sep 13, 2010

* It’s a challenge when you have a statewide syndicated column and want to write about the Chicago mayor’s race, but I went ahead anyway this week

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s stunning decision to step down at the end of this term has at least temporarily sucked almost all the oxygen out of Illinois politics and focused just about everyone’s attention on an extremely rare open seat contest.

There hasn’t been an open seat race for mayor since 1947, when Ed Kelly stepped aside so the Machine could endorse reformer Martin Kennelly. Richard J. Daley defeated Kennelly in the 1955 primary, and the rest is history. This upcoming open seat race is just about the rarest Illinois political event most of us have seen in our lifetimes.

Since this race is so unique, one of the big worries of state Democrats is that groups allied with them could decide to husband their resources in anticipation of an all-out Chicago war next February. The mayor’s race will cost a fortune, and several aldermanic seats look to be in contention. Most of the same big groups who play statewide will also be extremely interested in holding sway over Chicago.

Some top union officials consulted last week said they had no plans at all to alter their November budgets, with one even saying that his union would borrow money if it needed the cash to compete in the mayor’s race.

However, if Gov. Pat Quinn can’t get his act together and make this battle with Republican Bill Brady a reasonably close contest, then there may be no reason to toss money down the drain with him. Better to save the cash for the city contest.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was perhaps the most prominently featured potential candidate in last week’s speculation. The former congressman and Clinton White House official has long been a Daley favorite.

Emanuel reportedly won’t announce a decision until after the Nov. 2 election. That means he and the rest of the White House could be hugely damaged by the national (and Illinois) election results, so we’ll have to see how this plays out.

An Emanuel run might mean more White House focus on his home state. That could be helpful to Illinois Democrats, particularly Quinn and U.S. Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias. If those two do poorly in Chicago and the White House wasn’t perceived as being “all in,” Emanuel will start out with a significant local handicap. Add to that any blame he gets for the party’s national losses and he’ll be seriously damaged goods - and his opponents will undoubtedly use that against him.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan has long been thought of as a potential mayoral contender, but she seems satisfied right where she is, at least for now. Madigan passed on an opportunity for U.S. Senate and governor last year, saying she thoroughly enjoyed her job. Madigan is the most popular politician in Illinois and would enjoy union support that might not coalesce behind Emanuel, who is not known for being a pro-union member of President Barack Obama’s administration.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, a former state legislator, last week signaled his openness to a run. Dart is a popular, capable politician who enjoys a strong base of support. He’s greatly expanded that base by protecting homeowners facing foreclosure, crusading against online prostitution advertising and being featured in a national cable series about Cook County Jail.

Comptroller Dan Hynes reportedly was approached by unions months ago about preparing for a run, but many don’t expect Hynes to jump in after losing his second statewide primary race. State Sen. James Meeks has talked about higher office for years, but never has pulled the trigger.

There are just too many more names to delve into right now. Keep in mind that this is a nonpartisan primary with a runoff if no candidate receives at least 50 percent plus one. The contest will be who can get into that runoff, which means that a whole host of folks could think they might make it.

The business community will undoubtedly be more than a bit freaked out about losing the stability and friendship of Daley, so expect them to back a candidate. The runoff calculation and the current national mood means that even some Republicans are musing about their chances at making the final cut. Millionaire Ron Gidwitz was just one of the names mentioned last week. Gidwitz is chairing Bill Brady’s gubernatorial campaign.

* Roundup…

* Rahm Polling Likely Voters

* Gutierrez for mayor? He tests parade-goers reaction

* Gutierrez, Meeks test mayoral waters

* James Meeks, Potential Mayoral Candidate, Draws Ire of Gay Rights Supporters

* Rep. John Fritchey Opts Out Of Mayoral Race

* Politicians parade their hopes of being mayor

* Politicians work crowds at 26th Street parade

* Chicago black leaders meet to discuss mayoral race: The Rev. Jesse Jackson and other black religious and political leaders from across Chicago have met to discuss the city’s upcoming mayoral race. Jackson says the leaders met Saturday to start coming up with criteria they think candidates should meet.

* Maggie Daley: Months went into decision

* Mrs. Daley ‘proud’ of husband’s work as mayor

* Oh, the perks Mayor Daley will miss

* Q&A | Mayor talks about his exit and challenges ahead

* Daley the Builder leaves unfinished business

* Oak Park president praises Daley’s ‘true leadership’

* Daley Eligible to Practice Law in Illinois

* Daley dynasty: 1 family rule of Chicago nears end

* Word on the Street: Turning heads the Chicago way

* Suburban mayors cite regional caucus as lasting Daley legacy

* Cepeda: Want to be mayor? Skip lies, pandering

* Washington: Next mayor must have foot in many ‘hoods

* Friedman: Civic issues and the mayoral succession

- Posted by Rich Miller        


11 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Sep 13, 10 @ 11:29 am:

    The runoff calculation is a volatile dynamic. Second place might not take very much.


  2. - Excessively Rabid - Monday, Sep 13, 10 @ 11:32 am:

    There hasn’t been an open seat race for mayor since 1947…

    I don’t understand this statement. What about Washington v. Epton?


  3. - Old Shepherd - Monday, Sep 13, 10 @ 11:36 am:

    Washington defeated incumbent Mayor Byrne in the primary, so it wasn’t an open seat.


  4. - Rich Miller - Monday, Sep 13, 10 @ 11:38 am:

    OS is correct.


  5. - Excessively Rabid - Monday, Sep 13, 10 @ 11:41 am:

    Thanks. I forgot how the Epton thing started.


  6. - Irish - Monday, Sep 13, 10 @ 12:00 pm:

    With Daley’s political astuteness, I am wondering if the timing of the announcement of his not running was not an attempt to get the Demos to wake up and get Quinn to realize that he has to get on the ball. If the Demos fail in the Governor’s race it will have repercussions as Rich has stated in the Mayoral race. Daley might be telling them all, including Madigan, to start working together, because there is a lot at stake.

    Even those of us who tire of Chicago taking center stage in the political arena of the state know that an ineffective mayor in Chicago will mean that more of Chicago’s problems will be the focus of the state legislature. A weak or non-productive governor and an ineffective mayor of Chicago and you might as well hang the foreclosure signs up on all the borders.


  7. - Quinn T. Sential - Monday, Sep 13, 10 @ 1:02 pm:

    {Some top union officials consulted last week said they had no plans at all to alter their November budgets, with one even saying that his union would borrow money if it needed the cash to compete in the mayor’s race.}

    Which union is this?

    This almost screams out for an injunction and restraining order. If I was a member of that union; sitting at home, waiting for an opportunity to work, or perhaps just spending my furlough days, because my public entity employer can not afford to pay me to work full time, I would be IRATE if they were borrowing in order to make campaign contributions.

    It is bad enough that they simply divert union dues to political initiatives without allowing the membership a say, but to incur debt to do so seems completely outrageous.


  8. - Rich Miller - Monday, Sep 13, 10 @ 1:07 pm:

    ===This almost screams out for an injunction and restraining order. ===

    Based on what law?


  9. - Loop Lady - Monday, Sep 13, 10 @ 1:15 pm:

    This is a sole ray of hope today for Quinn’s campaign…it looks bad for him…God help us all
    if Gov. Brady happens…when does he start killing puppies and kittens and take away health care services from low income residents of IL?


  10. - Quinn T. Sential - Monday, Sep 13, 10 @ 1:46 pm:

    {Based on what law?}

    Breach of fiduciary duty


  11. - OneMan - Monday, Sep 13, 10 @ 3:25 pm:

    Then again what union at this point is going to say at this point “You know we are going to keep our powder dry and save it for the Chicago election” so I suspect what is being said and what is going to happen are two different things.


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