Meeks, Davis in race for Chicago mayor

November 14, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Emanuel unveiled his first broadcast commercial online Sunday. It will begin airing on Chicago television Monday.

The timing of the announcements -- and television ads to follow-- is not a coincidence. Monday is the first day candidates for mayor can turn in their required petition signatures to get on the February ballot.

The mayoral race is non-partisan, which may work well for social conservative James Meeks, who is trying to reach out to a mix of Chicagoans.

Meeks, a mega-church pastor, made his mayoral announcement at the UIC Forum Sunday night. The event included some Latin flare, classical music by an 11-year-old and remarks from a conservative Republican.

"I'm proud to be with him and for him, and I may ask you to give him a rousing welcome. Let's welcome the next mayor of the city of Chicago, Sen. James Meeks," Republican and Meeks Finance Co-Chairman Andy McKenna told the crowd.

With an by introduction by the former state Republican Party chairman, Meeks' annoucement rally was a well choreographed production that reflected what the South Side minister-turned-politicain was hoping to portray: that he is a candidate for all people.

"I know how to get the job done. I know how to unite this city. I know how to be a unifier," Meeks said.

While Meeks touched on crime, the city's budget and the importance of business, his passion and priority continued to be education. He has worked closely with McKenna on school vouchers and invited a New Trier High School social studies teacher to talk Sunday about Meeks work for educational equality.

"What other politicians have even really tried? I am sad to say it, given than he graduated from New Trier, but I don't remember Rahm Emanuel bringing this issue," said teacher Tom Kusharski.

While Kusharski took a shot at Emanuel, Meeks pledged Sunday night to sign an agreement that there will be no negative campaigning.

Emanuel's first campaign ad to be aired is a postive one.

"We've got to decide whether we're going to continue to be a great city or become a second-tier city," Emanuel says in the ad.

Meanwhile, Congressman Danny Davis made his announcement earlier Sunday with approximately 400 supporters watching. This is second time Davis has run for mayor. The first time was in 1991 when he ran against Mayor Daley.

Making a grand entrance with his wife, Vera, Davis announced his candidacy for mayor at a downtown hotel. Surrounded by what he called a diverse group of supporters, he painted himself as a grass roots populist candidate, one that can bridge a gap.

"I prepared to bridge that gap between affluent and wealthy communities and those that are still struggling. I will bridge the gap between North Side and South Side, between downtown and West Side, and those that are still struggling," Davis said.

Taking a swipe at the old Chicago ways, Davis said he would bridge the gap between those getting city contracts and those who do not.

Davis took no questions from the media.

During his announcement, the congressman also addressed the city's financial problems, something to which he admits he does not have all answers, but he says he has some general ideas on where to start.

"Improve efficiency and productivity, get rid of waste and duplication, create new systems, find new sources of revenue," Davis said.

Davis was tapped to run for mayor by a coalition of black leaders. The point, the group says, was to choose a consensus candidate. Nevertheless, Rev. James Meeks and Carol Moseley Braun, who were both coalition finalists, continue their quests to be Chicago's next mayor.

"I think that the debate is going to be a good one. I welcome everybody -- I'm going to be in the field. So, I'm looking forward to talking about the future of our city," Carol Moseley Braun said.

Moseley Braun says Chicagoans are too sophisticated to let a candidate buy an election.

"I don't think buying ads is going to be the key to the highway in this election," she said.

The field for the mayoral race also includes City Clerk Miguel del Valle and former Chicago school board president Gery Chico, who have already declared.

Candidates for mayor can begin to turning in their petition signatures Monday. They have until November 22 to complete that process.

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