Chicago Mayor Richard Daley will not seek re-election this February, telling reporters that it "just feels right" to retire after his sixth term.
The dynasty is dead. The Sun-Times is reporting that Mayor Richard Daley will not seek re-election this February. The Democrat's poll numbers had dipped dramatically over the past two years, although no major rivals had entered the race officially. Progress Illinois is seeking comment from some of the elected officials mentioned, in recent weeks, as potential challengers to Daley, to see if the mayor's announcement today has changed their minds about running. We're also keeping tabs on all the latest updates about the stunning news from local media sources. Check below for updates as they roll through.
UPDATE (1:50 p.m.) In a brief comment, Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd Ward) said he spent the past weekend considering whether to run or not. Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) could not be immediately reached.
UPDATE 2 (2:04 p.m.): This is what Daley told reporters about his decision:
"In the end, this was a personal decision, no more, no less," Daley said, declining to answer questions. "I've been thinking about this for the last several months . . . . It just feels right."
UPDATE 3 (2:21 p.m.): In a follow-up conversation with Fioretti, the aldermen said he's been canvassing his ward and the city and has heard that people are ready for a change at the top. "People felt the administration was not doing the job," he told Progress Illinois. "One thing I heard is we need a change, we need new leadership." Daley's retirement doesn't mean an instant announcement though -- Fioretti plans to make clear his intentions within two weeks. He added that his schedule was full of meetings with union officials and business leaders about the race.
UPDATE 4 (2:26 p.m.): Even close Daley allies were flabbergasted by the news, according to a report from the Chicago News Cooperative. "I'm numb," said Chicago Transit Authority chairman Terry Peterson.
UPDATE 5 (2:30 p.m.): Another potential candidate, State Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) gave a statement to Capitol Fax:
“The mayor has served the city for 20-plus years, and now it’s time for him to enjoy the rest of his life. The new mayor who will take over has nowhere to go but up. Public schools are in need of overhaul. City colleges are in need of overhaul. The city’s financesare in need of overhaul. The city’s rapport with police officers is at an all-time low. For the new mayor, the sky’s the limit.”
UPDATE 6 (2:39 p.m.): Chicago Public Radio is reporting that retiring Cook County Assessor James Houlihan says he's interested in joining the race. Meanwhile, here is ABC 7's initial piece on the news:
UPDATE 7 (2:46 p.m.): A spokesperson for Tom Dart hints that the Cook County Sheriff is very interested, as well. From the Tribune:
“Mayor is an office he’s always been interested in,” said Steve Patterson, Dart’s spokesman. “He’s been upfront about that. He does have a re-election campaign for sheriff I November that he’s focused on. . . . He always said he would make a move only if he could have a greater impact than sheriff, and mayor certainly fits that.”
UPDATE 8 (2:52 p.m.): NBC 5 has posted the raw video of Daley's resignation speech. Watch it below:
UPDATE 9 (2:59 p.m.): Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward), chair of the City Council's Black Caucus and a longtime Daley ally, described himself as "shocked" by the mayor's announcement in an interview with PI. He said the Black Caucus will gather after tomorrow's City Council meeting to see if any caucus members plan to run. And, Burnett said, the group will discuss potential candidates from outside of the council -- of all races -- whom they may consider supporting for a mayoral bid.
UPDATE 10 (3:21 p.m.): One name that continues to be bandied about as a potential candidate is Rahm Emanuel. Some progressives have already made their feelings about that possibility clear. In April, after the White House Chief of Staff told the media that "one day I would like to run for mayor of the City of Chicago," Ald. Rick Munoz (22nd Ward) called the comment "tacky." U.S. Rep. Rep. Luis Gutierrez told The Hill during the same week that Emanuel should "stay in the White House" or "go make millions in investment banking." And 1,700 people have already signed an online petition circulated by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee that states "I will not support Rahm Emanuel in any future election for Congress, Mayor of Chicago, Governor, or other office." We're awaiting a further statement from Munoz.
UPDATE 11 (3:27 p.m.): Ald. Joe Moore (49th Ward), a frequent critic of the Daley administration, didn't mince words about Hizzoner's impending retirement:
"Whoever occupies the chair is going to have a whole set of problems,” he said. “I don’t think next mayor will be able to be as autocratic and secretive ... Many people lost trust in Mayor Daley because he made decisions in secret.”
UPDATE 12 (3:36 p.m.): The deadline to submit mayoral nominating petitions is Monday, November 22. So we only have roughly 11 more weeks of speculation ahead of us!
UPDATE 13 (3:53 p.m.): Back in January, Mechanics editor Ramsin Canon wrote a provocative piece arguing that progressives and reformers who focus too heavily on Mayor Daley "make true grassroots democracy difficult to build." The antidote, he countered, was to build an "open city" that was more "democratic and fair":
A serious program of defining how an open Chicago would operate and what it would look like needs to begin in earnest. How can we displace power from the Fifth Floor without simply empowering local power brokers and parochial interests? How do we return decision making to the neighborhood level without sacrificing a citywide vision for economic prosperity? Can we have neighborhood democracy and comprehensive urban planning?
That piece is pretty resonant today.
UPDATE 14 (3:56 p.m.): Here's a brief statement from Tom Balanoff, the president of the SEIU Illinois State Council (which sponsors this website):
Mayor Richard M. Daley has provided Chicago with a lifetime of public service. The Service Employees International Union's Illinois State Council wants to thank him for his work. This economic recession has made clear that Chicago needs a strong advocate for working families. SEIU represents 100,000 members in Chicago--a strong voice for workers and working families.
UPDATE 15 (4:02 p.m.): Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) tells Progress Illinois that he hasn't decided yet whether he'll run for mayor or not, but he'll make the call within two weeks time. "Our decision will be based on signatures, on fundraising, and what happens with the ward," he said. Other candidates in the race won't be a factor.
Waguespack points out that the fundraising battle may ease slightly now that the mayor is out of the race. He said an exploratory committee he formed to examine a mayoral bid calculated that challenging Daley would cost at least $2.5 million and possibly upwards of $3 million. But a run without the powerful incumbent would cost less, starting at $1.5 million.
Asked what issues he expects will define the forthcoming race whether he's in it or not, Waguespack said, "There are two overarching issues -- management and the city's finances, though they are interrelated ... Then, education and how we're running CPS, the TIF issue and how we reform TIFs, and the police department."
Another possible contender, City Clerk (and progressive champion) Miguel del Valle, offered this statement:
“I thank Mayor Daley for his decades of hard work and dedication to the City of Chicago. His passion for the city was evident in everything he did and I wish him and his family the best. The Mayor’s announcement today comes at a time when people are anxious and are looking for change. I am sure there will be many people looking at what opportunities exist in Chicago’s political field and the new Mayor will have many challenges ahead of him or her.”
UPDATE 16 (4:20 p.m.): State Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) is presently running for the Cook County Board of Commissioners. But he's taken up the tax increment financing (TIF) reform mantle in recent weeks, introducing legislation in Springfield that would send unappropriated TIF bucks back to taxing bodies at the end of each fiscal year. Fritchey said in an interview today that his recent talk of running for mayor was "never predicated" on having another candidate in the race. "I've stated that the public is interested in having choices. It's clear now they'll have a choice," he said.
Would he be among those choices? Fritchey told Progress Illinois, "It would be an honor and privilege to serve as mayor of this city." A decision will come "sooner rather than later."
UPDATE 17 (4:45 p.m.): The Ward Room rounds up some statements from Illinois' biggest political players, including President Obama and Gov. Pat Quinn. The mayor, Obama said, "leaves a legacy of progress that will be appreciated for generations to come." Here's Quinn's thoughts on the development, via a release:
I’ve worked with Mayor Daley since the day I got sworn in. I met with him right away and he has given me council and suggestions on all kinds of things. And I’ve worked with him to get important things done. We’ve passed a bill to have job recovery and invest in our roads and our bridges and building new schools. We’ve been able to work on a lot of different initiatives to get money for education from the federal government. The Mayor’s the best of all.
UPDATE 17 (5:20 p.m.): The Tribune lays out some key checkpoints any potential candidate will need to pass to get on the ballot. Of note: If no candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote on February 22, there will be a runoff election April 5. The new mayor's term will begin on May 16.