AustinTalks that neither Hispanic mayoral hopeful, Chico nor City Clerk Miguel del Valle, can win. Davis went so far as to compare Del Valle and Chico to serial losing candidate William “Dock” Walls...">
Carol Felsenthal
On politics

Danny Davis Says Hispanic Can’t Win Mayor’s Race; Gery Chico Responds

After today, it’ll be all mayoral politics all the time. Why wait? I spoke yesterday to Democratic Congressman Danny Davis and lawyer Gery Chico, both of whom have eyes on the Fifth Floor of City Hall—and both of whom are warily circling each other. Last week, Davis said to community newspaper AustinTalks that neither Hispanic mayoral hopeful, Chico nor City Clerk Miguel del Valle, can win. Davis went so far as to compare Del Valle and Chico to serial losing candidate William “Dock” Walls…

Danny Davis (left) and Gery Chico
Danny Davis (left) and Gery Chico

 

After today, it’ll be all mayoral politics all the time. Why wait? 

I spoke yesterday to Democratic Congressman Danny Davis and lawyer Gery Chico, both of whom have eyes on the Fifth Floor of City Hall—and both of whom are warily circling each other.

Last week, Davis said to community newspaper AustinTalks that neither Hispanic mayoral hopeful, Chico nor City Clerk Miguel del Valle, can win. Davis went so far as to compare Del Valle and Chico to serial losing candidate William “Dock” Walls.

Chico told me on Monday that he is “surprised and disappointed” by Davis’s comment. Asked about his relationship to Davis, Chico replied, “I know him,” and left it at that.  

In talking to me yesterday, Davis had sweeter things to say about Chico—“a very intelligent, astute, engaged, involved professional” who knows public service and politics “as well as anybody around.” Still, Davis said, “I think [Chico] will have a difficult time winning the election.” 

Davis, 69, an African-American, has represented the 7th District since 1997; before that, he was a Cook County commissioner and a city alderman. For years he has seemed to want to shed his job as congressman, but he has never quite found the right new gig.

Chico, 54—who has worked as chief of staff for Rich Daley, as well as president of Chicago Public Schools—is half Mexican (his mother was Lithuanian and Greek). Most recently the chairman of the City Colleges board, Chico strongly identifies with his Hispanic roots while promoting himself as a candidate for the city.

Still, Davis told me Chico simply doesn’t have a wide enough base. The congressman might have a point: Hispanics make up one quarter of Chicago’s population, but because the demographic group is young and because some of its members are not American citizens, it totals just 15 percent of the city’s registered voters.

Chico attributes Davis’s comment to the congressman’s bitterness at not being selected by the Coalition for Mayor—a group of black politicians, pastors, lawyers, and other leaders—that has been trying to select a consensus candidate. On Friday night, the Coalition seemed to settle on former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun and Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Larry Rodgers.

Not so fast, says Davis, who still hopes to be endorsed. He told me that “some people wanted to have another interview with myself and Reverend [James] Meeks, and I understand that that interview is supposed to be taking place next Friday night [November 5th].” 

Davis says he hasn’t decided whether to run yet, but he hopes he’ll end up being the coalition pick. He added that he won’t run if he’s not endorsed, and that a black candidate lacking the coalition support “wouldn’t have much of a chance—and that, really, is all I was saying about Miguel and Gery. Any of us would have a difficult time unless we’ve got the coalition-based support.”

Chico told me his supporters are “raising millions.” While he declined to name any of his financial backers, he said, “most of the money is local—people from all over the city and metropolitan area.”

“Local” might be a dig at Rahm Emanuel, who will be spending Thursday in Beverly Hills collecting contributions from Hollywood moguls.

Asked about calculations that Lisa Madigan will jump in the race if Pat Quinn wins today (and likely forecloses a Madigan run for governor in 2014), Chico says, “I don’t care one way or the other. I take the mayoral election a lot more seriously than hedging the conditions of other people. I think this is about personal commitment, not about political ambition or calculation.”

On the subject of Rahm, Davis mentions their “very good” pre-recess meeting in Washington before Rahm left his White House spot. Asked if he and Emanuel have a close relationship, Davis says, “We’re not running buddies, but we respect each other.”

The congressman, who will sail to re-election today, says he’ll make his decision on running “probably” by next week.

 

Photography: Chicago Tribune

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3 years ago
Posted by A Neighbor

Carol, glad to see you are dedicating some writing space to this. As a Chico supporter (vs being "Star" struck for Emanuel), I think he is ethical, practical, open minded (gays, straights, black, white, jewish, christian), a neighborhood guy, and high energy. I think he is what is needed now. Someone who is not looking for a stepping stone (Emanuel) or an interim position or a way to keep things the same (Davis) but instead may just be able to work the city thru the budget woes without destroying it's world class status.

3 years ago
Posted by Jason Jones

I don't understand why the News Media thinks Rahm Emanual is some kind of second coming. Look at what the voters said and did to the Obama Agenda last night. Rahm was a very important spoke in that wheel. If what happen yesterday is any kind of mandate on Rahm Emanuels' leadership ability, it is rather apparent that he is lacking something there. Secondly every expert says he could not survive a challenge to the residency requirement, to be involved in the race in the first place. But the media seems not to remember that for some reason. If he thinks he will able to bully the City Counsel, I got some news for him, the Aldermen in the City of Chicago are a lot of things good, bad and indifferent, but they are not lacking in the ability to generate a lot of testosterone. Which tells me a lot of time and money will be spent when there is none in the budget in the courts and elsewhere just to prove whose job it is

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