Daley Announcement Could Tempt Illinois Lawmakers

Posted September 7, 2010 at 3:42pm

Updated: 5:28 p.m.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s announcement Tuesday that he will not seek re-election next year could scramble Illinois’ Congressional delegation, and perhaps the White House.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel expressed interest in the mayor’s job on “Charlie Rose” months ago, and in past years Democratic Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr., Luis Gutierrez and Danny Davis have been among a bevy of Illinois politicians who have flirted with running for the job. The mayoral election will be in February.

Davis said in an interview Tuesday that the announcement came as a surprise and that many people are already considering running, including himself. “I haven’t given a great deal of consideration to it,” he said. “I’m not going to rule myself out; I’m not going to rule myself in.”

But Davis said Emanuel wouldn’t be able to waltz away with the mayorship, describing that as a “Beltway notion.”

“All politics is local,” he said. “In Chicago, if you are out of sight, then you are pretty much out of mind,” Davis said, noting that Members of Congress go home every weekend. “When the bell rings, all of the Chicago representatives are on the airplane coming home, because they know they need to be in direct contact with their constituents, or somebody else is going to be on the plane.”

If Emanuel runs, “he’ll need to come and put his feet on the ground like any other candidate” and see if he can put together a coalition to win, Davis said.

“There’s nobody who’s got a corner on this,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a frontrunner.”

There are no term limits for executive positions in Illinois, and Davis said he has long supported imposing them. Davis said he didn’t think Daley feared being defeated, but the mayor may have decided it was his time to go. He also noted that Daley’s wife has been ill.

Jackson praised Daley’s efforts to build Chicago into a business and tourism destination in a statement Tuesday, but he also criticized the mayor, saying he is leaving the city “in extremely poor fiscal shape.” Looking ahead to the race for the city’s next mayor, Jackson said, “I expect there will be numerous candidates, but only a few can mount a serious bid for mayor.”

ABC’s Jake Tapper tweeted a statement from Emanuel expressing surprise at the decision: “While Mayor Daley surprised me today with his decision to not run for re-election, I have never been surprised by his leadership, dedication and tireless work on behalf of the city and the people of Chicago.”

Emanuel is being targeted by liberals who blame him in part for the failure to include a public insurance option in the health care overhaul. “I will not support Rahm Emanuel in any future election for Congress, Mayor of Chicago, Governor, or other office,” reads a pledge on the Progressive Change Campaign Committee website. “He sold us out on the public option and is a weak Democrat who caves instead of fighting conservatives and corporate power. We won’t forget the choices you’ve made, Rahm.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) issued a statement Tuesday praising Daley’s record as mayor. “I spoke with Mayor Daley after his announcement and know this was a personal, family decision. After 21 years as Mayor and almost 40 years in public life, Rich Daley knew it was time.

“The job of a big city mayor is one of the hardest in America. The fact that Chicago is one of the best, most energized, most attractive places to live in our nation tells the story of Mayor Daley’s record.”

Jennifer Bendery contributed to this report.