The Chicago Tribune survey confirms that what's happening to incumbents all over the country is also happening to the long-time mayor of Chicago. Richard M. Daley's approval rating has dropped to an historic low for him, and Monday morning, another possible 2011 challenger went public.
When he leaves office in December, James Houlihan, 67, would have served three terms as Cook County assessor. He said he is not surprised by incumbent Mayor Daley's low approval rating, and cited corruption in the incumbent's administration as a possible campaign theme.
"The issue of what some of the alderman have called the corruption tax," said Houlihan.
Of 500 registered city voters surveyed by the Chicago Tribune during July, only 37 percent approved of how Mayor Daley is doing his job. Perhaps more ominous for the mayor, 53 percent, a majority, said they did not want Daley to run for re-election.
The mayor, who has not yet decided whether to run for what would be an unprecedented seventh term, refused to discuss the Houlihan comments during or following an afternoon news conference on gun control.
Of several city aldermen reportedly interested in a mayoral campaign, only the 32nd Ward's Scott Waguespack has said so publicly. Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who expressed some interest four years ago, now says he's content with his job in Washington.
"If asked, I'm gonna go out and campaign for Mayor Daley for re-election," said Gutierrez, a Democrat. "I know what I'm doin'."
Political consultant Maze Jackson says that Daley's numbers are down now, but he notes the mayor still has not geared up his well-financed campaign apparatus.
"What we'll see as we start ramping up towards the elections, we'll see the infrastructure - that infrastructure that probably has been a little bit latent, will begin to activate and come to life," said Jackson.
Houlihan said his immediate focus is to complete his term as assessor. He indicated he'll make a decision on whether to run for mayor in the fall:
"It's the kind of job that anybody who grew up in the city and cares about their neighborhood and their home would love to be involved with," said Houlihan.
While not responding to the Houlihan comments Monday, the mayor did express concern about his lower approval rating over the weekend.
The mayor is not yet a candidate for re-election. He still has not held a fundraiser or named a campaign committee. He is not required to officially announce until the fall.