Now that we know who’s running in the mayor’s race, here are Ward Room’s updated odds on who'll come out victorious.
Rahm Emanuel: 7-5. Emanuel is the favorite, but I refuse to believe he’s a lock. First of all, he has to overcome the challenge to his residency. And we don’t know who’ll he face in the run-off. Emanuel would have an easy time against Carol Moseley Braun, but he’d get a stiff challenge from Gery Chico. The debates will show how much this federal politician knows about governing the city. And debates matter: in 1983, frontrunner Richard M. Daley was ruined by his inarticulateness, while long-shot Harold Washington talked his way into contention.
Gery Chico: 2-1. When Chico announced, he didn’t look like a very promising candidate. He’s never held office before, and in his one attempt at winning an election, he got 4 percent in a U.S. Senate primary. (In fairness, he was running against Barack Obama.) But so far, Chico has run the most impressive campaign. He has a detailed school plan that involves adding 25 days to the calendar and providing every student with a laptop. Paul Vallas endorsed him, and he’s about to win the backing of Ald. Ed Burke, who doesn’t want another all-powerful mayor. For Daleyites, he was the mayor’s chief of staff. For anti-Daleyites, the mayor is pissed at him, for suggesting school reform has lost momentum.
Danny Davis: 7-1. Of the three black candidates, Davis has the best chance of winning, because he has the fewest negatives. So he helped out the Moonies? Pfft. As a pro-Washington alderman during Council Wars, Davis is a revered figure in Chicago’s progressive community, which could help him on the Lakefront. And his congressional district encompasses Chicago’s financial district and its wealthiest neighborhoods, which can’t hurt in fundraising.
James Meeks: 12-1. Meeks has the same problem Bobby Rush had when he ran against Mayor Daley in 1999. He’s so steeped in South Side culture that he can’t appeal to the rest of the Chicago. Meeks’s megachurch has helped him build a power base in his neighborhood, but it makes North Side voters wary of his inclination to separate church and city. Meeks made a huge gaffe when he said he would only pick on gays if he didn’t have anything better to do as mayor. He doesn’t seem to understand that North Siders see the gay movement as a matter of civil rights, not morality.
Carol Moseley Braun: 15-1. Moseley Braun is second in the polls right now, but that’s due to name recognition. She’s going to drop -- also due to name recognition, among those who remember her term in the U.S. Senate. Moseley Braun had a chance to become the most important black politician in America, and she blew it. She ran a chaotic office, and burned through five chiefs of staff in five years. During her vanity presidential campaign, staffers quit over late and missing paychecks. And she wants to run a city with 37,000 employees? This is another vanity campaign by a “recovering politician” who hasn’t recovered.
Miguel del Valle: 20-1. Del Valle was the first candidate to announce, and the first to air a TV ad -- but it only ran for a week. He is seen as the candidate of the Latino community, the smallest of Chicago’s three ethnic groups. Might make the runoff if the three black candidates cancel each other out, and he steals enough Latino votes from Chico, but unlikely. Beating Emanuel in the finals is even less likely. Right now, del Valle is running dead last in the polls.