Have you heard? Before we can elect a new mayor, we have to elect a new senator and a governor, too.
While Daley could have cruised to victory without spending much money, experts estimate that it’s going to cost $7 million for a newcomer to win the mayor’s race. That’s $7 million that won’t be going to other candidates -- like Pat Quinn and Alexi Giannoulias, who both need financial help badly. But they’re running for offices that aren’t as important to political contributors as the one up for grabs in Chicago. Over the last half-century, the Daleys have concentrated so much power in the mayor’s office that it makes the governorship look like a clerkship. (The U.S. Senate has never been particularly important in Illinois. It’s where you send goo-goos so they can’t keep an eye on the hinky business in City Hall and the state capitol.)
Over at Crain’s Chicago Business, Greg Hinz thinks Pat Quinn is screwed:
Gov. Pat Quinn, his election effort already reeling, appears to have suffered a staggering blow with Mayor Richard M. Daley’s stunning decision to retire.
There only is so much political energy in any town, even Chicago, and now all the energy here is going into the wide-open race for mayor.
That leaves little if anything for Mr. Quinn, who badly needs to rally Chicago’s Democratic base if he’s to get back into the contest with GOP nominee Bill Brady.
It ain’t over yet, not with two months of campaigning left. But Mr. Daley’s oxygen-sucking move is the last thing Illinois’ rookie governor needed.
The scramble to replace Daley will also splinter political loyalties in Chicago, said Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois-Springfield. Quinn needs a unified party to drum up Democratic votes.
“Chicago is the core of the Democratic party, in terms of their base vote,” Redfield told the West Suburban Journal. “And a strong political organization led by [Mayor Daley] is a plus for Democrats statewide.”
Unfortunately for Quinn, Daley couldn’t wait to make his decision. The strongest candidates to replace Daley -- Tom Dart and Rahm Emanuel -- made it clear that they would only run if Daley stepped down. Petitions are due Nov. 22, less than three weeks after the election. That might not have given Dart and Emanuel enough time to build a campaign organization and qualify for the ballot. We would have been left with the usual flakes who think they can beat Daley. Quinn was one of the first people Daley spoke with after announcing his retirement from politics. The governor must have wondered if that phone call was a harbinger of his own retirement.