Hoffman joins a thin field of Democratic candidates pursuing the seat currently held by Roland Burris. It includes Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson.
Since becoming Inspector General in October 2005, Hoffman, a former federal prosecutor who specialized in gangs and law clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, has been gaining acclaim around the city for taking on the mayor and his policies.
Most recently Hoffman’s office released a report saying the city was shortchanged by upwards of $1 billion for the parking meter privatization deal.
Hoffman is considered fiercely independent and somewhat of a pest by Mayor Daley’s. Earlier this year Hoffman’s office issued a report on City Hall hiring practices that led to Daley’s personnel chief’s resignation.
Daley will likely breathe a sigh of relief over his departure, though the mayor has denied any fued in the past.
"He hasn't stepped on any toes. He just does his job rightfully. And that's what his authorization is," Daley said after the personnel chief resignation.
"He's done a very good job. Yes. He's been very good. Yes. He's done a good job. I've always said that."
He’ll likely run as a reform candidate, like Gianouliss. But he probably won't count on an endorsement by Daley, which could make it difficult for him to raise funds. Chicago's political donors won't want to anger the mayor by funding a rival of sorts.
His joining the race could be a boon for Jackson, a black woman. Hoffman and Giannoulias are both white males running as reformers. Thier splitting those votes could leave the door wide for a minority candidate.
Whomever wins the primary will likely take on presumptive GOP candidate Mark Kirk, who has been amping up his bid in recent weeks.
Hoffman is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School.