Bill Daley Bails Last Minute on Televised Mayoral Debate

There have been more than 40 mayoral forums across the city, but only two of them televised so far. FOX32 and the Lincoln Forum invited five candidates for Thursday's session but less than two hours before the “live” event Bill Daley cancelled.

Daley instead attended a 20-minute endorsement session with the Local 130 Plumbers union. While the union represents 6,000 workers, Daley was criticized by the other candidates for avoiding the spotlight.

Daley told NBC 5 “you run your campaign, and I’ve done that for four months, I feel good about where we’re at.” With Daley out, the Lincoln Forum called Paul Vallas at the last minute and he stepped in saying “anytime I can replace a Daley, I’m ready.”

Daley’s snub of the much talked about debate comes on the same day the Chicago Tribune’s front page story revealed his insurance license exam was tampered with more than 40 years ago in his favor. Daley told NBC 5 “there’s nothing in there alleging anything about me, two it’s 46 years ago, I’ve been vetted by every intelligence, law enforcement agency to be President Obama’s chief of staff and commerce secretary, so there’s nothing in that story that bothers me; it’s an old story, and that’s life.”

Without Daley on stage, the candidates turned their criticism to one of the other perceived frontrunners, Toni Preckwinkle. Gery Chico questioned her financial support from the Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU. Chico said “they funded 90 percent of your campaign, you cannot in good conscience argue the best interests of the citizens of Chicago, when you are a wholly owned subsidiary of those two unions. “ Preckwinkle responded “that’s not true.”

Willie Wilson added “if you’re given two or $3 million you’re already bought.” Wilson often mentions he is the only candidate self-funding his campaign for the majority of his funds.

Preckwinkle responded “I am the most progressive person in this race. I got elected in 1991, on my third try. I beat the machine on my third try.” And while Preckwinkle did not cancel from attending the televised debate – she was the only one of the five tonight who did skip the post question and answer period from reporters.

Susana Mendoza piled on the Preckwinkle criticism with “she calls herself the most progressive candidate in this but, she is the boss of the party bosses, she is the machine.”

Back to the Daley cancellation, his campaign slogan is no excuses and he also criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently saying he should put on his big boy pants. Daley says “I put on  my big boy pants the day I got in this campaign and every time I’ve done an interview with you or anybody else.”

After the televised debate, the Daley campaign changed its mind and now says he will attend a second interview taping Friday with several of the other candidates. It’s not the same time slot or the same setting and viewers will not have a chance to evaluate him side by side with those who polled at the top.

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