Chicago politics is often a complex amalgam of contending forces and issues, but last week some of the kinks were ironed out when the second of two Black candidates for mayor dropped out of the race.
Longtime Congressman Danny Davis decided to end his quest to run the Second City, thereby bringing a sense of unity and eliminating the possibility of Black candidates nullifying each other and providing a clear field for Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff.
The Rev. James Weeks, a popular South Side minister ended his campaign last week.
Carol Moseley Braun is seeking to become the second African-American and the first Black woman to lead the Second City. The late Harold Washington became the first Black person to win election in Chicago in 1983, and died in office shortly after being re-electedin 1987.
Moseley Braun, a former senator, remains the only major African-American candidate in the race to replace Richard Daley, who announced that he would not seek reelection. Daley has been mayor since 1989.
Davis relinquished his quest after a lengthy meeting with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Braun and others at Rainbow PUSH headquarters.
Latino Gery Chico, a former education leader, remains in the race, which will be decided on February 22.
Emanuel’s gains in the polls and the announcement that Bill Clinton would be campaigning for him perhaps prompted the Black community to unify and put up their best chances at winning.
Though a formidable candidate, Emanuel faced a number of early obstacles, including fending off charges that he was not officially a Chicago resident. To be a candidate for mayor, one must reside in the city for at least a year before the election.
While that matter may be temporarily resolved, that’s not to say it won’t emerge again and be challenged in court.
“This decision,” said Jackson, responding to the ruling that allowed Emanuel on the ballot, “makes the rules and laws too elusive and breeds insecurity. It suggests one set of rules for the rich and powerful, and another set for the rest of society. The courts cannot maintain confidence and credibility unless they uphold the law.”
Emanuel is a former congressman from Chicago’s North Side and, according to press reports, moved his family to Washington because he couldn’t turn down Obama’s offer to be chief of staff. His wife, Amy Rule, and the couple’s three children still live in Washington and will remain there until the end of the school year.