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Mendoza bobs and weaves when asked about running for mayor

Thursday, Sep 20, 2018

* From yesterday’s Tribune editorial board interview of the three candidates for comptroller

Tribune: So, we’re gonna jump right in with a burning question right now, um, Mayor Emanuel’s decision to not run for re-election next year has thrown a different factor into the November races. So, Comptroller Mendoza, do you plan to run for mayor?

Mendoza: Way to start off with a softball, right? So, hello! Uh, I am running for comptroller, that’s why I’m here and I’m very excited to talk about the record of accomplishments that I’ve done over the last almost now two years and uh the reason I’m here is I love my job and I’m very focused on being comptroller, so there’s still 48 more days to go, and I have a message to share across the state of Illinois and that is what my commitment is. I know that there’s a lot of speculation going on but I don’t think that anybody here can know exactly what the future holds for any of us, what I know is what I can do today and that is stay focused on this race and and ask people to give me an opportunity to continue to represent them.

Tribune: Can you give us an idea of where your thought process is, because obviously voters don’t want to elect someone for comptroller and then you spend the next six months running for mayor.

Mendoza: Right, well, you know, my thought process is that I love this job and I think that it’s super flattering and it’s, you know, the greatest honor to have people say and suggest that I am capable and experienced to lead a higher office, but you know, the mayor just dropped a bombshell on the city of Chicago and the dust is still settling and I can’t get distracted from what my job is which is to manage the state during this fiscal crisis and I’m committed and continue to do that. So, again, I don’t know what the future holds for any of us but what I know is that every single day that I’ve served in this position and every single day that I continue to serve is with the people of Illinois’ best interests in mind and that is what I’m focused on.

Tribune: So, will you pledge that if elected you will fill your full term as comptroller?

Mendoza: Again, you know, I don’t rule anything in or out, I think that there’s been lots of people before me, and even people that are right now currently running for mayor, who are in a similar position as I am in, where I think a lot of people have gotten out front on this issue and are focused on the mayor’s race, my focus continues to be the comptroller’s race and again I don’t know where I’ll be in three years, I hope I’m healthy, first and foremost, and everybody else that’s sitting at this table, but I think that my commitment continues to be to run for comptroller, I haven’t made any noise in terms of running for mayor. Um, and that is something that needs to continue to be the case, it’s one election at a time, and I’m very focused on this election right now.

Tribune: Do either of her opponents, do either of you want to weigh in on this mayoral issue?

Senger: You know um, I could just tell you one thing right now is when elected and if elected comptroller, I will serve four years as comptroller, and unless something, like merging the comptroller’s office and the treasurer’s office happens, so that’s an issue there, but, [to Mendoza] I would like to see a commitment that on November 7th, if you’re elected, you’re gonna be there for four years, and you’re kind of hedging it.

Mendoza: I’m not hedging anything, I’m very committed to be the comptroller, that’s what I’m running for, that’s why we’re here, and I do think it’s ironic though, all kidding aside, that the person who is saying she doesn’t want to even serve as comptroller because she wants to eliminate the office is questioning my commitment to this office. I think I’ve shown my commitment over the last two years, I have lead this state through the worst fiscal crisis, it’s been my greatest honor, and it’s nice that people think that I am capable of doing something else. But right now I am here to talk about my record and why I believe that the people of Illinois should be happy to continue to hope that they have a, you know, a fiscal watchdog that is looking out on their behalf. So, that is my focus, um, again, as someone who doesn’t even want to serve a whole term as comptroller, when the comptroller’s office is very important in the state of Illinois, I would say that that’s a little bit disingenuous, as well.

Senger: And again, the function’s not going away, the cost of having two offices are…

Mendoza: -I’ll be happy to engage in that debate in a little bit.

Senger: But again, you haven’t answered the question, on November 7th are you…

Mendoza: I think I’ve answered the question and I would be happy to talk about my record as comptroller and why I deserve to be re-elected as comptroller, thank you.

Tribune: If you are thinking about running for mayor, you’d have to turn around almost immediately after election day and prepare for that.

Mendoza: So, here’s the great part, like the media and everyone else gets to speculate and have fun with that…

Tribune: I’m not asking you to speculate. I’m saying that you would have to turn around immediately to prepare, get petitions,

Mendoza: sure..

Tribune: …to run for office, so it’s hard to me that you wouldn’t be making a decision on this before election day.

Mendoza: All those points are true, all those points are true. But again, I am very focused on the next 48 days and everyone who has called me to ask that I consider running for mayor I have given the exact same answer that I’m giving you, which is that I am very focused on this election, I have been working hard across the entire state of Illinois. Not a single thing has changed on my schedule as to am I in Chicago more versus Downstate more. I am here today with this Tribune editorial board because I think that it’s important that your readers know what I’ve done for the state and why I’m asking them to give me another opportunity to continue to represent them. And again, what the future holds, I can’t tell you at this moment whether I’m going to comptroller for four years or forty more years. I certainly hope not, right? But I would say that uh, you know, I’m committed to this job, and that’s why I’m here. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here, and I think that uh, that that’s very clear.

Tribune: Do you have any members of your team that are looking into it is as you’re maintaining focus?

Mendoza: No, every single person that works for me is focused on leading this state through the worst fiscal crisis, which still continues to be a very intense crisis. There are people who have been trying to draft me to run for mayor, I can’t control what they do, again it’s again, you know, very flattering, it’s a high honor. But I keep telling every exactly which is what I’ve told you, including those who have called me to urge me to run for mayor, and that’s that my focus is the next 48 days. I mean, at the time that they called it was a different number, right, but I’m very focused on that election and you know, it’s nice that people think that but again, one race at a time. And the race that I’m running for right now is comptroller of the state of Illinois.

Senger: Would you endorse someone else to run for mayor? Rather than yourself because you’re running for comptroller?

Mendoza: We don’t even know who’s running for mayor yet, Darlene. There’s like 20 thousand people, maybe some people in this room besides the names that have been mentioned might throw their hat in the ring for mayor. It seems like it’s a free for all right now, but my focus is on this job. I’m not even going to entertain or worry about the mayor’s office from now until election day and this is the only job that I care about.

You can watch the whole thing by clicking here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

38 Comments
  1. - BenFolds5 - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 9:35 am:

    Um… She’s obviously running for mayor. Ha.Or not ruled it out.


  2. - Dee Lay - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 9:37 am:

    With Toni officially announcing today, why would Mendoza even consider it at this point?


  3. - ChicagoVinny - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 9:38 am:

    Is there any polling evidence voters actually care if a politician serves a full term or if they run for another office mid-term?

    I am genuinely curious because this always seems like a pundit/journalist issue and not one voters actually care about.


  4. - Joe Bidenopolous - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 9:41 am:

    ===With Toni officially announcing today, why would Mendoza even consider it at this point?===

    Well, maybe because Toni isn’t nearly as popular as Toni thinks she is? Just a hunch…


  5. - Retired Educator - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 9:42 am:

    I think her answer is ok for now. It seems the Tribune, and others are trying to create news. She said right now she is running for Comptroller, and wants to leave it at that. I don’t see a problem.


  6. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 9:45 am:

    Seems she is going to have to decide before election day in November, because at the rate the candidate pool is rising in the mayor’s race, announcing in November will be too late. There’s like 15 candidates already with some heavy hitters, so better just to say no now and take the issue off the table. I’m not convinced she would finish top 2 for the mayor’s race anyway with Daley and Preckwinkle in.


  7. - Long Time R - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 9:45 am:

    I wish she would because Preckwinkle would destroy her. And maybe a little humbling would be good for Mendoza


  8. - Arsenal - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 9:47 am:

    ==With Toni officially announcing today, why would Mendoza even consider it at this point?==

    Because every story about Toni’s announcement is going to contain a graf about her chief of staff.

    Other reasons, too.


  9. - KennyLoggins - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 9:48 am:

    Harold Washington was running for Congress when he turned his attention to the mayoral race, Toni Preckwinkle is currently running for Cook County Board and is about to announce her mayoral candidacy today (according to Tribune), Obama had not completed his full senate term when he decided to run for president. This doesn’t seem like an issue voters care deeply about in my opinion.


  10. - Tommydanger - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 9:56 am:

    I believe she has done an excellent job as Comptroller. I will likely vote for her in November as well. Her equivocation on the issue of whether or not she’ll run for Mayor of Chicago diminishes her credibility in my eyes.

    To be asked to pledge to be in office for the entire four year term might be asking too much. To be asked if you will be in office longer than four months seems more than reasonable.


  11. - MG85 - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 9:58 am:

    ==With Toni officially announcing today, why would Mendoza even consider it at this point?==

    Several reasons but, most likely, she believes she can win. Not just in the naive sense, but serious people with serious money could be encouraging her to run. Let’s not forget, she is a former state rep and Chicago City Clerk (youngest serving Rep and first woman Clerk). That means she has real support and voters to rely on in the city. She would have a strong platform to speak from and, based on her back and forth zingers with Rauner, she has proven she can more than hold her own against tough messaging opponents.

    It is also the case that this is a crowded field that will see almost no candidate gain 50% of the vote. That means the race is about getting to the run off. In a head to head race against the County Board President or former Police Superintendent, she has a unique standing to present several wedges for constituencies that would, otherwise, support Mendoza’s opponent.

    That said, she could run for the heck of it with little downside as she would remain in office no matter the outcome.


  12. - agREEd - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 10:04 am:

    ==This doesn’t seem like an issue voters care deeply about in my opinion==

    You hit the nail on the head. So why doesn’t Mendoza see it that way?


  13. - Christopher - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 10:07 am:

    It seems like the Tribune and Senger were trying to make this an issue, trying to pin her down. I thought Mendoza’s answer was fine and professional - that they are there to talk about the position of state comptroller and how Mendoza has done that job.


  14. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 10:10 am:

    If this is how the Trib treats a debate about Comptroller, then Pritzker was right to skip their governor’s panel.


  15. - Charles Edward Cheese - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 10:14 am:

    She’s totally running for mayor.


  16. - Chi - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 10:16 am:

    Ok, no one tell Senger that Election Day is November 6th, not 7th.


  17. - Not It - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 10:16 am:

    If Pritzker wins and Mendoza resigns to run for Mayor, I would take note of the irony of Madigan/Cullerton repealing the law that allowed Mendoza to be Comptoller in the first place.


  18. - Joe Bidenopolous - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 10:20 am:

    I think she’s running, and I also think she’ll be a great candidate. She’s calculating, an exceptionally hard worker and with the projected field, it won’t take too much to get in the runoff.

    All that said, anyone with resources and ability can easily tie her to Rahm, Burke, Madigan AND Daley, so it’s not like she’s an ideal candidate either.


  19. - Louis G Atsaves - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 11:17 am:

    Mayor wannabe Mendoza and her seven long run on sentences. Multiple opportunities to answer and she didn’t, other than to claim she single handedly fixed Illinois finances.

    If elected will she serve? Yes or no. My hunch is no. If the GOP tosses some money into this race and plays the Mendoza flailing away over avoiding answering a simple question?


  20. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 11:22 am:

    Interesting to see the other comments that think she can wait until November to get in and still win. I just don’t see it. There’s going to be at least 15 candidates by then, maybe 20, who will have a head start on building their organizations, garnering endorsements and raising money. She would certainly be competitive for a top 2 spot in the February election if she went at it full bore, but giving her opponents including folks like Preckwinkle and Daley such a head start jeopardizes that. For those practical reasons, I think it’s more likely that she just wants to keep the media attention ramped up as long as possible without committing either way.


  21. - From the 'Dale to HP - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 11:23 am:

    Well this sure makes it seem like Mendoza’s running. And if that’s the case, the GOP might be better off trying to see if they can win the Comptroller race by painting Mendoza as someone who isn’t going to be around, so why vote for her?, in the ‘burbs and downstate. This might be their best opportunity to hold a statewide elected office.

    What are the odds the IL GOP doesn’t hold a single statewide office and faces super majorities in the House and Senate? Is it better than 50%?


  22. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 11:35 am:

    ==I wish she would because Preckwinkle would destroy her. And maybe a little humbling would be good for Mendoza==

    LOL what is this based on. Besides Evans in 91′ she has only run against joke candidates (Stroger and Fiorettti)

    ==If the GOP tosses some money into this race and plays the Mendoza flailing away over avoiding answering a simple question?==

    You call that flailing? I hope they waste money on this race


  23. - SSL - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 11:39 am:

    Mendoza has done a good job, and she’s gotten credit for it. She would be a serious candidate for mayor, but I hope she thinks real hard about doing it. Being mayor of Chicago at those point in history is a no win proposition.


  24. - Joe Bidenopolous - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 12:11 pm:

    ===Interesting to see the other comments that think she can wait until November to get in and still win.===

    I wouldn’t say she can win if she gets in now or then - maybe she can, maybe she can’t, but it’s easy enough to run a shadow organization on the side in anticipation. Y’know, have people “recruiting” her by passing petitions, any leftover fundraising can go directly there and she certainly doesn’t have to spend it all on comptroller during this cycle.

    Honestly, I don’t see the strength of Daley and Preckwinkle that others apparently do. You really think the city is going to elect another Daley? I’d eat my hat if that happens. Toni has a chance, but man does she have some negatives. And if the rumors are true about her oppo file - anon at 11:35 is right, she hasn’t had a real race - then all bets are off.


  25. - Anon - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 12:17 pm:

    She’s right, there are like 20 thousand people running for mayor.

    I guess there’s really not much bad stuff to throw at Mendoza, so the Trib needed to spice things up somehow.


  26. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 12:20 pm:

    I think she’s bobbing and weaving because she’s not sure what she’s going to do and is preserving her options.


  27. - Monkey Business - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 12:23 pm:

    As I’ve said before, Mendoza’s position on letting voters know her plans as Comptroller is simple:

    “A deal is a deal, until a better deal comes along!”.

    Just tell us Suzanna, it’s a simple question.


  28. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 12:24 pm:

    –You really think the city is going to elect another Daley? I’d eat my hat if that happens.–

    No, but I think the name can get him into the 20’s or so in a 15 to 20-way primary, and that might be enough to get him into a runoff.


  29. - Joe Bidenopolous - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 1:07 pm:

    ===in a 15 to 20-way primary===

    It won’t be that big in the end. Some will bow out. And, you need 12,500 signatures (so really, 25,000 or more) and voters cannot sign more than one petition. So those 15 campaigns would need to collect roughly 375,000 *unique* signatures. Ain’t gonna happen.


  30. - Keyser Soze - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 1:14 pm:

    Given the huge crowd of candidates, mostly the same old same old, she could have a legitimate chance of making what is likely going to be a runoff. Suzanna has a fresher face than the rest.


  31. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 2:25 pm:

    –If the GOP tosses some money into this race…–

    Yeah, “the GOP.” The dude has a name.

    And I think Senger’s calling him the “lesser of two evils” probably wasn’t the kind of sweet talk he was looking for to write some checks.

    https://capitolfax.com/2018/08/16/senger-agrees-rauner-is-lesser-of-two-evils/


  32. - Responsa - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 3:47 pm:

    It’s too soon. Susana is a fresh face and seems smart. Her communications skills are poor and frequently cringe worthy. This suggests she may not be currently suited for all that is entailed in running for the mayor’s job and/or performing the mayor’s job–yet. Northwestern University offers a well regarded Masters of Science in Communications degree which is designed for already successful and professional people who recognize that they could benefit from improving their listening, messaging, speaking style and sentence construction across a variety of platforms. The classes toward this degree are available partly on weekends so that people can work around their existing jobs and obligations. This is not fluff media training. If Susana is serious about moving toward higher office she should consider this or a similar curriculum to help her get there eventually and rise up a step above the other names she might be up against.


  33. - Louis G Atsaves - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 4:01 pm:

    Why all the anti-Tribune venom in the comments here? All Mayor Wannabe Mendoza had to do was answer a simple question. She didn’t and elected to prattle on with long winded non-answers.

    That’s on her, not the Trib. For someone who touts transparency, she sure blew enough smoke.

    Still reading the taxpayer paid campaign report while traveling. Maybe she isn’t the heroine many around here thought she was.

    Just saying.


  34. - low level - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 6:25 pm:

    “lead the state through its worse fiscal crisis”

    OK…


  35. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 7:17 pm:

    =Why all the anti-Tribune venom=

    It may have something to do with the slant of the Trib Edit Board.


  36. - wordslinger - Thursday, Sep 20, 18 @ 9:56 pm:

    Responsa, you have my vote for Saddest and Smarmiest Concern Troll.

    Congratulations.

    Did you think that was clever?


  37. - Shytown - Friday, Sep 21, 18 @ 9:23 am:

    The Democratic ticket needs Susana on the ballot in November and right at this moment in time that is more important than her announcing that she’s running for mayor. And I hope she does run for mayor because anyone else who stands an actual chance of winning mostly represents politics of the past. That’s Toni, Daley, Chico, and Vallas. Chuy is simply not qualified. McCarthy is scary and must be defeated.


  38. - Responsa - Friday, Sep 21, 18 @ 9:24 am:

    ==Did you think that was clever?==

    No. I thought it was honest and hopefully helpful.


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