Richard M. Daley - NBC Chicago
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Richard M. Daley



    The king is abdicating the throne. Long live the king.

    A swaggering, spittle-spewing King Hippo of Chicagoland with decades of civic KOs under his championship belt, Richard the Younger's crown has recently grown heavy with budget problems, strained political alliances, and a failed Olympic bid. As his approval ratings dipped to historic lows, and only months away from eclipsing his father as the city's longest-serving mayor, Hizzoner Jr. surprised everyone by announcing -- with no fanfare -- that he wouldn't seek a seventh term.

    Now the questions come: Who could follow Daley? An iron-fisted ruler with sometimes ham-fisted tactics, Daley held Chicago in his czar-like sway, building great Midwest monuments -- Millenium Park, green roofops, etc -- while a generation of would-be civic leaders chafed beneath him. Who can manage the "Big Tent Dictator's" legacy? The city's mismanaged privatization deals? The floundering convention business? The oddly allocated TIF funds?

    And who could build a city-wide constituency? In the background, the Rev. Sen. James Meeks gesticulates wildly from his evangelical pulpit; Ald. Ed Burke steeples his fingers; and a bevy of aldermen lick their chops while Rahm Emanuel, machine prodigy, methodically tries to clear the field.

    Chicago hasn't seen an electoral hullabaloo like this in over two decades. Are we ready? And, more importantly, what do we want?

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