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Mayoral Rumor Mill Revs Up

  When reporters ask Chicago politicians who might challenge Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2011, you get the immediate and ironic Daley-esque response:

  "Gee, I dunno".

  Then if they trust you or see a need to use you, the pols lean in close and ask the reporter the all-important question:

  "Is this off the record?"

   Of course, and the rumor machine begins to whirr. 

   It easily churns out the names of Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) and Cook County Assessor James Houlihan.  No suprises there.  They were both quoted as "considering" a campaign weeks before the Chicago Tribune's midsummer survey reported a 37% approval rating for Daley.   Its the same telephone poll in which 53% of those surveyed--angry about high taxes and privatized parking meters--said they did not want Mayor Daley to run for an unprecedented seventh term.

 Its those other names that raise the eyebrows.

 Ald. Bob Fioretti

 Sources say that millionaire Attorney Fioretti has put out feelers to raise money to put with his own for a campaign.  The alderman, when asked on the record, insists he's not a candidate.    Sure.   Until he announces.

  Fioretti's 2nd Ward, which includes parts of the South and West Sides is perhaps the most racially diverse in the city.  It includes some of Chicago's newly- gentrified neighborhoods as well as some of its poorest.   Seemingly, the Second would make a perfect base from which to launch a citywide campaign. 

  Fioretti, like Waguespack, won his first term in 2007.  He has virtually no name recognition outside of his ward.

  And if he runs for Mayor he'll have to give up his seat on the city council.  That's a huge reason aldermen rarely step up to challenge a sitting mayor in Chicago.

Jonathan Jackson

  Mayor Daley may have thought he defused a possible challenge from the Jackson clan when when he announced his support for a TIF deal to begin development of what used to be the US Steel Plant in Alderman Sandi Jackson's 7th Ward.  The Alderman was absolutely bubbly in her praise for the Mayor shortly after the plan was announced and those of us who watched the scene presumed her newfound love for Hizzoner would spread to her husband, U.S. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr..  

  Remember, Junior had considered a run for Mayor in 2007.  A year and a half later he became entangled in the Rod Blagojevich corruption mess and could be on the witness stand in Blago's second trial during the city election campaign. 

  But what about Jonathan?

  The Kellogg MBA is the businessman/activist who is the heir-apparent to his father's civil rights legacy.  More often, the 44 year old Jonathan leads the Saturday morning program at Rainbow/Push headquarters and has emerged as an outspoken critic of Daley's administration of the Chicago Public Schools. 

  Co-owner with his younger brother Yusef Jackson of a successful Anheuser-Busch distributorship on the city's Northside, he would appear to have the financial independence necessary to begin a career in elective politics.  And he's not the type to be swayed by a development deal in his sister-in-law's aldermanic ward.

Emil Jones

  When a political operative called me one morning last week to float Jones' name as a mayoral possibility, I nearly choked on my blueberry yogurt.  The former Illinois Senate President is only seven weeks shy of his 75th birthday. 

  But "The Hammer", as he likes to be called, looks and presumably feels great.  And no one knows the political game, especially on the all-important South Side, better than President Jones.

  And another thought:

  Jones has no love for the Jackson political family no matter which civil rights activist, son or daughter-in-law might be in front of it.  If Jonathan, Sandi or Junior does make a move on city hall, it would give Jones great pleasure to be the spoiler.

  Finally, Don't expect Mayor Daley to announce his own candidacy for re-election or to hold a fundraiser until after a challenger emerges.   In his previous, mostly uncontested races the Mayor has waited to make his formal announcements during the first week of December.

  But if a legitimate opponent emerges this time around, given the anti-incumbent mood of the electorate, he'll need to get things underway at least a few weeks earlier.













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