Bids begin for Emanuel's place in Congress

CHICAGO Emanuel accepted Obama's offer to be his chief of staff Thursday. Now comes the task of electing someone to take over the Democratic congressman's seat.

At noon Thursday, the president-elect confirmed Emanuel would be giving up his seat in congress. By five o'clock, eight people either confirmed to ABC7 they're running or are strongly considering it.

"The opportunity to serve under an Obama presidency is hard to turn away from," said State Rep. John Fritchey, (D) 5th District candidate.

Fritchey went to Springfield with Obama in 1996. The two worked on landmark ethics reform together. Now, Fritchey wants to join his old friend in Washington by replacing Obama's new chief of staff in Congress.

"Whether it's ending pay-to-play politics, whether it's stopping up and bucking leadership, whether it's a true independent streak before it became en vogue to do, I'm proud of the record I've established for more than a decade now," Fritchey siad.

Illinois' 5th Congressional district runs from the North Side of Chicago over to O'Hare airport and into the near west suburbs.

Other Democrats who confirm they'll run include Deborah Mell, who was elected state rep just two days ago, and two North Side aldermen: Gene Schulter and Tom Allen.

"I am clearly the only one who started a revolution in government through reform and to get rid of patronage, bloat and corruption," said Mike Quigley, considering run for Congress.

Cook County Commissioner Quigley is also talking like a candidate but is waiting for his friend and compatriot in combating county cronyism, Forrest Claypool, to decide whether he wants to run.

"We recognize that only one of us can do in Washington, and one of us can stay to deal with Cook County reform," Quigley siad.

Obama staffer Pete Dagher is also considering a run.

Then there's the Republican. Commercial real estate broker Tom Hanson earned 24 percent of the vote against Emanuel earlier this week.

"I think people feel like they've been left high and dry," Hanson said.

In the next four months, there will be a special primary election and then a special general election for the seat. Those dates will be set by the governor.

The tight timetable means endorsements and precinct workers will be very important. And should president-elect Obama decide to back one of the candidates, that could seal the deal.

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