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Daley’s exit from Chicago to be felt statewide

By Benjamin Yount
Contributions Mary O’Connor

CHICAGO  –  Richard Daley is not just the mayor of Chicago, and his decision
Tuesday not to run for re-election is far more than just a local issue for voters in
Chicago.
 
Illinois lawmakers, from the city and across the rest of state, all agree that Daley’s
exit from city hall will impact the entire state.  Daley, 68,  who’s been mayor since
1989, said Tuesday he’s decided not to seek re-election next spring, that “it’s time
for me, it’s time for Chicago to move on.”
 
The impact of that decision could be felt as quickly as this fall.  University of Illinois
at Springfield professor Kent Redfield points out mayoral wannabe’s are already
making their own plans.  And Redfield said anything that hurts party loyalty in
Chicago could hurt Gov. Pat Quinn and other Democrats across Illinois.  “Chicago
is the core of the Democratic party, in terms of their base vote,” Redfield said.  
“And a strong political organization led by [Mayor Daley] is a plus for Democrats
statewide.”
 
Cook County Clerk David Orr says the political landscape in Chicago “changes
enormously” after Mayor Richard Daley’s announcement that he won’t run for
reelection.  Orr said Tuesday that now “many political people will be focused on
the mayor’s seat.” Orr says there’s going to be much “scheming and planning.”
 
State Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley, said there is a lot of uncertainty now,
and so that political organization will not be unified until the candidates are
chosen.  “It will have impacts in November and as [Chicago] goes forward…And so
it’ll be time so see who is going to step forward and lead in probably one of the
most difficult times on our history.”
 
Other Democrats say the pushing and shoving that are sure to come will be critical
as the final  candidates emerge and eventually, the new mayor.  State Rep. Greg
Harris, D-Chicago, said no one can predict what Chicago and Illinois’ political
landscapes will be once the two elections are over.
 
“[Daley’s decision] turns it upside down on its head and shakes it out til everyone
falls out of the bottom.  There’s probably a lot of people saying ‘Why did I decide to
run for this, if I’d have just kept my powder dry’ or ‘I’ll be the next mayor’.”  Harris
said everyone should really take a step back and relax.
 
But State Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, thinks it’s too late for that.  “[Daley’s
announcement] is like chum for a shark.  They’re throwing a bunch of blood in the
water and all of the sharks are circling.  And the biggest sharks are going to start
taking a bite at city hall.  That’s a hell of a prize.”  But Jacobs is quick to add the
impact of a new mayor goes well beyond the immediate political shifting.  Jacobs
adds that Chicago is the engine that makes Illinois move.  He said Daley has
driven that engine, and moved the rest of the state with him.  “I do look for a mayor
that is a little more engaged and not so Chicago-centric, someone who looks at the
whole state.  Because policies that are designed in Chicago have an impact on my
community.”
 
State Rep. Rich Myers, R-Macomb, said Daley’s influence in Springfield included
the annual battle over gun control.  “If there’s another mayor replacing Mayor
Daley that is less of an advocate for gun control it will have an impact on
downstate in the sense that we won’t always be fighting anti-gun legislation.”
 
State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said a Chicago without Daley could be
chance to balance the power inside the state capitol.  “Because of the fact that the
party that is controlling the state of Illinois now is from Chicago, and you have a
disproportionate number of legislative members from the city of Chicago and with
Daley’s influence means that Chicago has had a strong influence in Illinois
government.”
 
Roosevelt University professor Paul Green said downstate lawmakers had better
be careful what they wish for.  Green adds that Daley’s power in Springfield did
more than keep downstaters in check.  “Without Mayor Daley in Chicago the
question is what would be the relationship of Chicago to the legislature?  And will it
mean that Speaker Madigan will have even more power because you’ll have a
brand new mayor who may or may not have any legislative experience what so
ever.”
 
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, did not touch on that when
issuing a statement praising Daley.  “I commend the Mayor on his long service and
respect this very personal decision. His record is one of remarkable
accomplishments. One only has to look around the city center to know he was a
major force in keeping this city and the region vibrant, alive and on the national
stage.”
Source Illinois Statehouse News.
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