Wednesday, October 27, 2010

EXTRA: Dart out – Is mayoral field thinning down to Emanuel and dreamers?

I always suspected that at least one of the so-called “major” candidates contemplating a run for Mayor of Chicago would wind up deciding it wasn’t worth the hassle.

Still the sheriff
Yet that doesn’t ease the surprise I felt Wednesday when I learned that the candidate would wind up being Tom Dart.

THE ONE-TIME STATE legislator turned Cook County Sheriff (who in all likelihood will be re-elected to four more years in that post in Tuesday’s elections), made it known that we should stop thinking of him as a mayoral dreamer.

All those years of building up a political resume meant that he held off until later in life (he’s 48) in terms of getting married and having children (he and his wife have five, the oldest of whom is 9). That makes him say he thinks it is more important right now to be a father, than a mayor.

So for those people who were anticipating the February municipal elections giving us an April runoff between Dart and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel; well, it  ain’t a gonna happen.

Dart’s announcement came just a couple of days after Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., announced that he, too, is NOT going to run for Chicago mayor. That announcement didn’t stir up as much attention – largely because of recent revelations that included hints of sexual sordidness that would have made it impossible for Jackson to run for anything other than re-election to his Far South Side and surrounding suburbs seat in Congress.

IT’S GOING TO take time for Jackson’s status to rebound to the point where he can seriously think of running for larger-scale political posts. For Dart, however, his name will probably go alongside that of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan as someone on the political scene with ability who has a chance to run for something in the future.

Could it be Dart himself who gets tossed out as a Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2014 – should next week’s elections give us the prospect of four years of “Gov. William Brady?” Could it turn out to be a Dart/Madigan fight in the Democratic primary for the right to take on Brady?

Or perhaps to take on Quinn if it turns out that he wins, and manages to disgust voters with his performance during the next four years?

Of course, that is speculation about a campaign four years from now. What is of more concern is the campaign that will take place four months from now for Chicago mayor.

THE ABSENCE OF Dart is turning this campaign into a real cakewalk for Emanuel, whom many Chicagoans may wind up voting for with contempt in their hearts.

The speculation had always been an Emanuel/Dart runoff, unless the campaign of Rev. James Meeks could knock one of them out – which was a very real possibility.

Where things stand now is that the African-American activists who want Daley replaced with a black mayor are trying to align themselves behind a single candidate, who could turn out to be former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun. Not that her presence would stop Meeks from staying in the campaign.

This could easily turn into Emanuel against the two African-American candidates of significance, along with some fringe candidates. I say fringe because while they have legitimate appeal to certain voters, I’m not sure they can reach out to the city’s electoral masses.

I PLACE CITY Clerk Miguel del Valle’s campaign in that category, which took a blow earlier this week when United Neighborhood Organization leader Juan Rangel said he supports Emanuel.

That has many Latino activists in Chicago ticked off, because they were viewing this mayoral election as one where they would try to unite behind (if not a Latino candidate) anybody BUT Rahm because he gets blamed by many for the Obama Administration’s lackadaisical attitude toward pushing for immigration reform.

He's serious about running for alcalde de Chicago
Emanuel used an interview recently with the Chicago Sun-Times to claim that as a member of Congress from 2003-08, he has an identical voting record on the issue as its national champion, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. (who himself recently said he would NOT run for Chicago mayor) and said, “nor does any one individual deserve the blame if something didn’t happen.”

It means that Emanuel will try to use Rangel – who told reporter-types that he thinks Chicago needs a “strong mayor” for “tough times” to continue in the ways of Richard M. Daley – to knock down the potential for Latino resistance to his political aspirations.

IN SHORT, IT has been a good week for Emanuel. He gets support in dealing with what could be a pesky Latino problem, while also losing what could have been a major opponent (even though Dart said Wednesday, “I don’t believe I’m paving the way for anybody” to become mayor.

What I do know is that many people have started shifting their political focus from next week’s elections for Illinois state government posts to the 2011 municipal elections, largely out of a belief that they would be more interesting than anything having to do with Pat Quinn.

Wouldn’t it be a kick in the head if those people slacked off of next week’s activity, only to find out that those municipal elections are going to have so few candidates that they will turn out to be deadly dull by comparison?


1 comment:

Steph said...

Thanks for your analysis of Dart's exit. It raises great questions about the viability of another candidate possibly matching Rahmbo's star power and name recognition. Perhaps the best bet may be Rep. Danny Davis, if the coalition really comes through for him in their support. Of course, Braun won't go down without a fight, but they may end up splitting the African American vote...