Mayor Daley back to work day after announcement

September 8, 2010 (CHICAGO) In an announcement that was a surprise to many Tuesday, the mayor said, "It is time."

A lot of possible candidates have begun jockeying for position in the race to replace the mayor. From aldermen to Rahm Emanuel, a lot of people are being mentioned as possible candidates.

Wednesday, members of the City Council's Black Caucus met to discuss their role in choosing possible candidates.

The Black Caucus meeting is one ABC7 found out about. Many others will be held over the next few days and weeks to find candidates to run for the job held by Mayor Richard M. Daley for over two decades.

The mayor Wednesday began the stretch run of his sixth and final term in office. Daley might be retiring soon, but on Wednesday morning, it was back to work and a tight schedule for him. Daley kicked off the morning with a 9:30 a.m. event at Soldier Field, then presided over the Chicago City Council at City Hall at 10 a.m.

His day began with an event promoting the Chicago Football Classic. His retirement plan announcement some 20 hours earlier should not have come up, but it did.

"Mayor Daley you have really, truly just been a role model for us to look at. Hopefully, whoever succeeds you keeps up with that moral values and commitments ," said Larry Huggins, Chicago Football Classic co-founder.

The football classic is the nation's largest reunion of alumni of historically black colleges.

Then, it was on to the Council chamber for the mayor. During the regular meeting, there was virtually no mention of Daley's politically seismic announcement.

But even the mayor realized many aldermanic minds were elsewhere.

"This is the best job in America, right here," said Mayor Daley.

No fewer than 10 sitting aldermen told ABC7 they were considering a run for the job Mayor Daley has held for the past 21 years.

"Given the gravity of where we are right now, I would have to strongly consider it. I'm not ruling it out ," said Ald. Sandi Jackson, 7th Ward.

Later, at a nearby hotel, the Council's Black Caucus -- plus U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush -- met to map strategies to make sure whatever candidates emerge understand their special interests. "I'm going to be looking for someone who hears my voice, responds to me and the people I represent. That's what's going to be important to me," said Ald. Leslie Hairston, 5th Ward.

The mayor repeated his vow not to endorse a candidate to succeed him.

"You know who's gonna decide that? They're not gonna be anointed. It's gonna be the people of the City of Chicago who decide that. It won't be Rich Daley to make that decision," the mayor said.

Daley said he will spend the next seven months making tough decisions he hopes will make the next mayor's job easier. In fact, he spent the early morning trying to raise private money for education which he hopes his successor will make a priority.

Political Posturing

For the first time in decades, Chicago aldermen and other politicians are talking freely about their aspirations to replace Mayor Richard Daley.

ABC7 learned late Wednesday that City Clerk Miguel del Valle will be running for mayor. He met with the Latino caucus Wednesday and plans to make the formal announcement in approximately one week.

So far, more than a dozen people have expressed interest in running since the mayor's announcement Tuesday that he will not seek re-election.

The rush to replace the mayor opens the door for a new level of debate and even dissent in a City Council that Daley has controlled for nearly 21 years.

That whooshing sound coming from City Hall is the power vacuum created by Daley's decision. What's that second, clawing sound you hear? That's from aldermen and other elected officials climbing over each other to be seen as a true contender to occupy the fifth floor of City Hall.

Steps off the City Council floor Wednesday, ABC 7 counted at least 10 Chicago aldermen expressing some level of interest in the top job.

"These guys want to be Mayor! That's why you see everyone out here, they want to be Mayor, so they're going to be talking to the press all day long," said Ald. Ed Smith, 28th Ward.

Fortieth Ward Alderman Pat O'Conner has said he won't be running.

"I'm not sure if that makes me smart or not, but that's the position I'm in," O'Conner said Wednesday.

Alderman Pat O'Connor is Mayor Daley's floor leader in the Council. He anticipates we'll see what amounts to a campaign take place in coming months on the City Council floor: Debate from a body long-known as a rubber stamp, "No's" from people accustomed to saying "yes" to the mayor, his budgets and his priorities.

"That room always has a lot of self-interest," said O'Conner.

"I think folks don't have to worry about the consequences of opposition to the mayor in a way they might have in the past, so that may change their conduct," said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, 4th Ward.

Alderman Sandi Jackson isn't ruling out a run. Her husband, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., was once considered a viable candidate. His brother, Jonathan, is now said to be considering entering the race. Three possible candidates, all from one family.

"I don't know; we've not had that family meeting yet, but I promise you, when it happens, it will be a very interesting one," said Ald. Sandi Jackson, 7th Ward.

"I think there'll be a lot of candidates, go to the City Council today, all 50 Aldermen are candidates for Mayor. Why not? This is the best job in America right here," said Mayor Daley.

As for the alderman -- Ed Smith -- who marveled at the collision of ego and aspiration in the Council? Well, he may be a candidate too.

"No, I didn't say 'no' and I didn't say 'yes,' " said Smith.

And that's the approach many are taking: floating trial balloons. The city's different ethnic and voting blocks are already having meetings to try to find consensus candidates.

And let's not forget Chicago's business and philanthropic community could also produce a well-funded candidate.

Candidates who want to jump into the mayoral race need to file their petitions at the Board of Elections between November 15 and November 22. The city's municipal election takes place February 22. If no candidate receives more than 50 pe cent of the vote, then a runoff election will take place April 5.

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