Possible mayoral candidates gather signatures

September 19, 2010 10:00:00 PM PDT
Former U.S. senator Carol Moseley Braun has taken another major step toward joining Chicago's widening mayoral fray.

She formally announced a petition drive for signatures on Monday. Moseley Braun made history in 1993 when she became the first African-American female elected U.S. Senator.

Mayoral candidates need 12,500 signatures to get on the February ballot.

Alderman and self-mentioned possible mayoral candidate Sandi Jackson appeared as scheduled at the union rally outside the abandoned U.S. Steel plant which is scheduled to be redeveloped in her South Side 7th Ward.

Her congressman husband, Jesse Jackson, Jr., another mayoral hopeful, did not appear as scheduled.

"The congressman had every intention of being here, but he's home sick," said Jackson, who said her husband was suffering from a stomach ailment.

The congressman has been subpoenaed and could be called as a witness in the Rod Blagojevich retrial scheduled to occur at the height of next winter's mayoral campaign.

Sandi Jackson promised a wife-and-husband decision on the mayor's race in the coming days.

"Jesse and I want the very best for the city first and foremost, and that may mean we're not the candidates," said Jackson.

Sandi Jackson and the unions did deliver on 1,500 chickens for empty pots in the far South Side neighborhood ravaged by unemployment. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Republican opponent was there to ridicule the event.

"Americans need jobs, not chickens," said Republican congressional candidate Isaac Hayes.

Hayes said Jackson, Jr. is trying to avoid him.

"We need a congressman that's going to be visible and present," said Hayes. "I've offered to debate him but at this time he's chosen not to do so."

Downtown at the Hyatt Regency, former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun announced her petition drive for mayor.

"I will begin a conversation with the people of Chicago about the course our city is going to take and the direction that we're going to go in going forward," said Moseley Braun.

Union leaders wondered why Moseley Braun would make her announcement at the Hyatt Regency since the hotel has been boycotted by the unions.

"It would be important for any elected official or anybody aspiring for public office to take that into account when they're making their decisions about where they do their announcements," said Jorge Ramirez of the Chicago Federation of Labor.

Moseley Braun said she has already reached out to labor and says the Hyatt Regency booking was a mistake by unaware campaign workers.

"This all came about really quickly as of Friday by a group of volunteers," said Moseley-Braun.

Moseley Braun says she will begin several weeks of what she called "conversation" about the city's future.

She promised to involve every ethnic group in that conversation and she said a goal of her campaign is "to be nice" in the nasty world of Chicago politics.

She said she does not want anything resembling the "Council Wars" of the Harold Washington era.

"If this becomes a divisive, one side of town against the other election, then whoever wins the political wars will not be able to govern. I will have no part of a divisive campaign," said Moseley Braun. "A city divided against itself cannot thrive."

Her petition drive announcement was a not-so-subtle appeal to women voters.

"We didn't mean to leave the guys out - they're all here, aren't they?" Moseley-Braun said at her event.

One female speaker after another extolled the former U.S. Senator and U.S. Ambassador's experience, which also includes terms in the state legislature and county government.

"Meeting the challenges that our city faces will take the best that each of us has to offer," said Moseley-Braun.

Meanwhile, at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Latino students rallied for congressman Luis Gutierrez.

"We want to make sure that he's in City Hall once again to finish the work that Harold Washington started," said student organizer Carlos Salgado.

Another possible candidate, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, spoke to a group of women supporters this afternoon.

He repeated that he is interested in a run for mayor after he wins re-election on November 2nd.

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