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Toni Preckwinkle Dodges Chicago Mayoral Run Question

Is she or isn't she?

With Chicago's mayoral election less than a year away, inquiring minds want to know whether Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will throw her hat in the ring.

"I have lots of things to do yet" in Cook County, she toldCrain's Chicago Business columnist Greg Hinz during a May 2 panel discussion, saying her "plan" was to run for re-election as Cook's president this fall.

While Preckwinkle won't answer definitively, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who double-duties as Mayor Rahm Emanuel's archnemesis, is dropping the Chicago Democrat's name as a potential candidate.

"Toni Preckwinkle was my alderman," Lewis said in a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune. "She would be great. She's also said she's not running, but she wins in the polls. If you've seen the polls, if she runs, she wins."

Indeed. A recent Illinois Observer survey showed Preckwinkle leading Emanuel by eight points, and resonating most strongly with black voters and those who think Chicago is headed in the wrong direction.

In a Chicago Sun-Times column earlier this year, NBC's Carol Marin commented on a possible bid by the long-time city politician, writing: "[G]iven that Emanuel has alienated the black community with neighborhood school closings but more charter openings — and infuriated cops and firefighters waiting for contracts and bracing for cuts — Preckwinkle has a voter base that Emanuel lacks."

That could be enough to start a movement to dethrone Emanuel, Marin noted.

Watch out, Rahm: looks like someone could be after your job.