Chicago: In search of viable black mayoral candidate
CHICAGO (AP) — Now that the midterm elections are over, Chicago’s mayoral candidates aren’t wasting any time stepping up their campaigns — and, in some cases, stepping aside.
Since Tuesday’s election, mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel has held a fundraiser in glitzy Los Angeles, and Gery Chico has mocked Emanuel with an endorsement event at Chicago’s Hollywood Grill. State Sen. Rickey Hendon has left the race after not being chosen by a group looking for a consensus black candidate.
This week has also seen bickering erupt between Emanuel and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, who accuses the former White House chief of staff of “abandoning” the president ahead of Tuesday’s election.
Candidates and would-be candidates have been rotating in and out of the race in recent weeks, and nominating petitions for the February primary are due Nov. 22. Current Mayor Richard Daley announced in September that he isn’t running for re-election.
Ari Emanuel, Rahm’s brother and a Hollywood agent, hosted the Los Angeles fundraiser Thursday. Most who attended the event contributed between $1,000 to $5,000, but campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt isn’t saying how much money was raised.
Chico, former Chicago school board president, poked fun at the out-of-town event by announcing — at the Hollywood Grill — that Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno is endorsing him.
Braun is scheduled to open a campaign office Saturday.
Other than Hendon, recent high-profile departures include Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Chicago Alderman Robert Fioretti. Others who have said they aren’t running include U.S. Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Luis Gutierrez, and former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones.
Among those who have announced their candidacy or are considering running for mayor are U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, state Sen. James Meeks and City Clerk Miguel Del Valle.
Hendon said he was leaving the race to avoid “causing disunity within the African American community.” He noted that a group of about 100 black leaders has been meeting to come up with a consensus candidate, and he didn’t make the short list of finalists.
“The horrific conditions … in the African American community demand that we attempt to find a mayor from our community,” he said. “We are in the worst shape. … That’s why it’s important to get a black mayor.”
Coalition leaders say they don’t know when — or if — a consensus candidate will be named but confirmed that the group’s finalists include Braun, Meeks and Davis.
Hendon refused to say whether his departure has anything to do with federal subpoenas recently delivered to groups with ties to him. A federal grand jury has demanded records describing how hundreds of thousands of dollars in state money was handed out to dozens of groups and individuals, including two of Hendon’s relatives.
An accompanying letter says the subpoenas are part of “an official criminal investigation,” although it doesn’t say who or what may have been the subject of the investigation. No criminal charges have been filed. Hendon brushed aside questions about the subpoenas Friday.
On Thursday, Moseley Braun issued a statement accusing Emanuel of abandoning President Barack Obama after “pushing policies that (led) to the biggest Democratic Party political loss in 27 years.”
“He left the president holding the bag,” she said. “If Rahm abandoned the president of the United States, what makes anybody think he’ll stick by regular Chicagoans?”
Emanuel spokesman LaBolt responded that Emanuel disagrees with Moseley Braun, saying that the president prevented another depression and passed health care and financial reform.
“While Rahm has spent the last several weeks talking with Chicagoans about plans for the city’s future — safe streets, strong schools, and stable finances — Senator Moseley Braun’s statement says nothing about her own plans for the city at this critical juncture for Chicago.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.