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02/09/2010

Up Next: 2011 City Elections

  No, its not too early to begin talking about the 2011 Chicago mayoral election.  Hard to believe, but its scheduled to happen on February 22, 2011, only one year and two weeks from today.

  Don't expect Mayor Richard M. Daley to announce whether he'll seek a seventh term until after the November general election.  But in recent days, there have been a few developments that will weigh on whatever decision his hizzoner makes:

Hoffman, Jackson Losses in U.S. Senate Race

  Former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman and on-leave Urban League President Cheryle Jackson scored impressive totals in city wards in their losing efforts last week.  Both are poised, if they so desire, to challenge the mayor whose approval rating has fallen into the 35-40% range because of persistent corruption in his administration (Sorich, Sanchez), the 2016 Olympics flameout, budget/tax issues and a widely criticized deal to sell the city's parking meters.   If Daley decides not to run, expect Hoffman and Jackson to be on a long list of contenders.

Gannon Gone

  Despite their legendary fights over Walmart, privatization, McCormick Place, etc. etc., retiring Chicago Federation of Labor boss Dennis Gannon remained Mayor Daley's go-to guy in organized labor.  When Daley needed concessions (furloughs, etc.)from city unions to help balance the city budget, Gannon was an invaluable middle-man between city hall and the locals.  Its not coincidental that days after Gannon announced that he's quitting and "drained", Daley can't reach a deal with CTA unions to avoid 1100 layoffs and dramatic service cuts.  Without Gannon, recalcitrant unions could be a bigger problem for the mayor, especially if the budget situation worsens by next fall.

Fall of Stroger, Carothers

  In 2007, the Mayor swept the African-American wards while winning his 70% citywide majority.  County Board President Todd Stroger's 8th Ward on the South Side and Alderman Isaac Carothers' 29th Ward were pivotal in Daley's success among black voters.   As noted in this post last week, "lame duck" Stroger's 8th is virtually leaderless and in total disarray. Alderman Carothers, whose political army dominated the black west side well beyond the borders of the 29th, pleaded guilty last week to federal corruption charges.  The Mayor will have to rebuild this important part of his base among African-American voters, who can make up anywhere from 45 to 50% of turnout in city elections.

The Mayor Remains the Frontrunner

  If Daley is still Chicago's mayor one day beyond December 25th of this year, he will surpass his late father as the longest-serving mayor in the city's history.  By then, after 20 years and eight months in office, he would have appointed (to fill vacancies) at various times at least 35 aldermen to the city council.  Many of them will be running for re-election themselves during the 2011 campaign season.  The fact is, dozens of aldermen owe allegiance to the Mayor and that always translates to some degree of political advantage.

  Also, remember the 1995 change from a political party primary to a non-partisan election.  That means if a challenger is able to hold Daley below 50% in the first round, he or she would have a one-on-one runoff with the Mayor.  Expensive. 

  And until some candidate proves otherwise, Daley remains the politician with virtually exclusive access to the big donors to city election campaigns.  Not only does he corner money for his own campaign leaving very little for challengers, he has significant influence over which aldermanic campaigns are funded.

  Follow the money.  If Mayor Daley gets it in 2011, he'll be tough to beat.

  If he decides to run.

 

 



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