The apple cart of Chicago politics, already veering all over the electoral highway after being upset last week by Mayor Richard Daley himself, took a new turn Monday as former Senator Carol Moseley Braun inched one step closer to a formal declaration for mayor.
Sharing the stage with a small group of supporters, Moseley Braun said she had authorized a formal petition drive to gather the necessary signatures to put her name on the ballot.
"And I, will begin a conversation with the people of Chicago about the course our city is going to take," the former senator declared. "I've got the credentials to do this."
Elsewhere on the mayoral front Monday, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was a no-show at a jobs rally he sponsored on the far southeast side, amid questions about the role he played in Rod Blagojevich's road to impeachment.
Witnesses at Blagojevich's trial testified that Jackson was present, when supporters concocted a scheme to raise millions of dollars for Blagojevich, in exchange for the congressman's appointment to the Barack Obama Senate seat. On a radio show Friday, Jackson said those supporters, members of the Indian-American community, were "speaking Hindu," and he did not know what they had been suggesting.
Monday, reporters hoping that the congressman would elaborate on those answers were greeted instead by his wife, Sandi, the 7th ward alderman. She maintained that her husband was home sick and attempted to minimize questions about the impact a second Blagojevich trial would have on his potential candidacy in January.
"Whatever happens in January, the average everyday citizen is more focused on this economy, and what it means to their families," the alderman said, saying that she and her husband would have an announcement about the mayor's race by "mid-week."
Declaring that Chicago's next mayor would need the "gravitas" to get the job done, Jackson said, "My husband absolutely has that kind of gravitas! He is eminently qualified, should we decide to do this."
Across town, a group billing themselves "Women for Tom Dart" packed a downtown restaurant today, paying $50 a plate to hear from the sheriff who is considered still another likely contender.
"I've told people I will look at it and at the right time I'll get back to them," Dart said. "Is it something I could be interested in? Yes, it could be. But I'm very busy right now."
Dart conceded that petitions were being circulated on his behalf, but on an un-official basis.
"There's a lot of people who are very interested in what I can do for the city, so you can't stop some people from doing what they're going to do, and that's fine."
He said he'd have announcement within weeks, not days, as to whether or not he was going to run.