Chicago Mayor Daley Won’t Run for Re-Election
Longtime Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced Tuesday that he will not seek another term after more than two decades in office.
"Simply put, it's time," said Daley at a City Hall press conference. "It's time for me, it's time for Chicago, to move on."
The 68-year-old Democrat presided over Chicago for 21 years, like his father did before him. He said the decision was a personal one, and added that he and his family can now begin a "new phase of our lives."
Daley, who took office in 1989, made the announcement surrounded by family, including his wife, Maggie, who's been battling cancer since 2002, but the Mayor would not comment on whether his wife's illness played a role in his decision.
"In the coming days I know there will be some reflecting on my time as mayor, many of you will search to find what's behind my decision," Daley said. "It's simple: I've always believed that every person, especially public officials, must understand when it's time to move on. For me that time is now."
Chicago politicos have speculated for months as to Daley's political future, and his announcement Tuesday is sure to set off a scramble to fill the executive power vacuum at City Hall. The February 2011 municipal race will be the first since 1947 when a sitting mayor will not run for re-election.
President Barack Obama said Daley "leaves a legacy of progress'' that future generations will appreciate. Obama said in a statement that there's no mayor in America who has loved a city more or served a community "with a greater passion'' than Daley. Obama also noted that Daley helped build Chicago's "image as a world class city.''
The announcement leaves an open door for a host of candidates, including Democratic Congressmen Jesse Jackson Jr. Danny Davis, and Luis Gutierrez, and Chicago Alderman Bob Fioretti, among several others.
White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is also a possible candidate. The 50-year-old Emanuel is a one-time Daley adviser and a Chicago native. He was an Illinois congressman until he resigned to take his current White House post.
Emanuel said in an April television interview that he would like to run for mayor of Chicago someday, but later scaled back those comments. In a statement issued by his office shortly after Daley's announcement, Emanuel did not rule out a mayoral run.
"While Mayor Daley surprised me today with his decision to not run for re-election, I have never been surprised by his leadership, dedication and tireless work on behalf of the city and the people of Chicago," Emanuel said in the e-mailed statement.
White House senior adviser David Axelrod deflected questions on Tuesday about whether Emanuel would leave the White House to run for Chicago's mayor. He said Emanuel is focused on his current job with the Obama administration.
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said he called Daley after the announcement.
"Chicago's a great city, and that doesn't happen by accident," said Durbin. "Great people, great history, but good leadership, and I think he's written a terrific record in the city of Chicago."
Durbin would not comment on who he would support as a mayoral candidate.
Mayor Daley left immediately after his announcement and did not take further questions.
(Photo courtesy of City of Chicago)