Chicago’s Mayor Daley has decided to end his political career. Chicago’s Mayor since 1989, in December he will break his father’s record as Chicago’s longest serving Chief Executive. No one knows the real reason Daley chose to hang it up, whether it’s his wife’s health or his low polling numbers. Long time Chicago Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman summarizes Daley’s current troubles:
Chicago’s stunning first-round knock-out in the Olympic sweepstakes, political fall-out from his nephew’s pension fund deals and a budget crisis that forced him to deplete the city’s long-term reserves and demand furlough days and other cost-cutting concessions from city employees.
Chicago is facing more of the same — and another painful round of service cuts — to erase a record $654.7 million shortfall in 2010.
The city’s bond rating was dropped. Its homicide rate is on the rise, including the murder of three Chicago Police officers in recent months.
More voters were increasingly viewing Chicago as a city that doesn't work. Being known as a “union” town isn’t an asset in a competitive, global economy. Who will confront Chicago’s problems as the next Mayor?
Several people are interested in being Chicago’s next Mayor. The most noteworthy is Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Whether Emanuel will leave the White House before the November election to start a campaign for February is anyone’s guess. Would President Obama get involved in local Chicago politics to endorse Emanuel?
Emanuel will face scrutiny over his tenure as a board member of the failed GSE Freddie Mac. What exactly did Rahm Emanuel know about corrupt accounting there? But, Emanuel has other problems. Whether Emanuel can overcome hostility from the African-American and Hispanic community over comments made about issuing drivers licenses to high school dropouts is another issue. Both communities will look to run a candidate in February’s election.
Then there’s the problem Chicago may be reluctant to elect a Jewish Mayor. As Alderman Burke told Professor Milton Rakove’s in an interview:
“There is a latent anti-Semitism in Chicago and a large population that will never vote for a Jew. They would vote for anybody before a Jew.”
Whoever decides to run for Mayor will have to have the backing of powerful Alderman Ed Burke, who is Chairman of the Finance Committee. With $6 million in his campaign fund, Alderman Burke will be the kingmaker behind the scenes. After all, the business community “feels” it is good business to be on the good side of Alderman Burke. Chicago Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman asked Alderman Burke if he would run:
“Stay tuned,’’ he said, laughing. “It would be one of the farthest things from my mind. [But] in Chicago politics, people never close the door.”
It’s not likely Alderman Burke is going to give up his lucrative legal business to take a pay cut as Chicago’s Mayor. Alderman Burke was handing out the money before Mayor Daley was elected and he will continue in that role no matter who is Chicago’s next Mayor.
The “Chicago Way” is likely to continue whoever is the next Mayor.