All eyes on Danny Davis

August 17, 2009 (CHICAGO) Will he or won't he? That's the big political question in the 7th Congressional District that spans from Oak Park, across the city's West Side, and to the lakefront. Danny Davis raised eyebrows when he announced he was leaving his seat in Congress to run for the county board. But, when Davis' political actions don't back up his political words, his potential successors are left to wonder.

State Representative La Shawn Ford is running for Congress in the 7th District. The Chicago seat might be open in next year's Democratic primary, which would present a young politician like Ford a rare opportunity.

"Because most of the time congressmen, they go in and they stay 10-20 years," said Ford.

Ford decided to run because incumbent Congressman Davis is collecting petitions to run for the Democratic nomination for Cook County Board president.

"We are moving full steam ahead toward becoming president of the Cook County Board," said Rep. Danny K. Davis, (D) Chicago.

But as Davis campaigns for the county job, he is quietly collecting signatures to run for re-election to his seat in Congress, setting off some degree of political confusion on the West Side.

"It's not a big deal to have 1,200 to run for Congress," Davis said.

"It concerns me a great deal, because I think that the people in the district I represent right now want to know, 'Are you going to run for Congress or are you going to run for state rep?'" said Ford.

That Davis might run for re-election has stunted what had been a growing number of candidates lining up to succeed him. They include state reps Ford and Annazette Collins, State Senator Rickey Hendon, Deputy Recorder of Deeds Darlena Burnett and West Side activist, the Reverend Marshall Hatch.

"I just happen to be one of those people who take the congressman at his word that he in fact is running for president of the Cook County Board," Hatch said.

Senator Hendon, who walked just behind Davis in a weekend parade, is not sure about the congressman's next move. Like Davis, he is also hedging his bets, collecting signatures to run for Illinois lieutenant governor as well as congress.

"When the 7th Congressional District presented itself, people came to me about it. I said, 'Listen, I'm going for lieutenant governor. Leave your options open,' so I'm leaving my options open until I know exactly what Congressman Davis is going to do," said Hendon.

Senator Hendon, Representative Ford and the Reverend Hatch indicated they would leave the race if Davis decides to run for re-election. Burnette said, if she puts in the work to collect signatures, she will run no matter what Davis does.

Collins was unavailable for comment.

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