Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Jackson Jr. moves closer to mayoral run

Jackson Jr. moves closer to mayoral run
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
September 6, 2006
Copyright by Chicago Sun Times

Six days after Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown jumped into the mayoral race, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) today plans to dip his toe into the same shark-infested political waters.

He's announcing an exploratory committee and a "listening tour" to help him decide whether to take the plunge.

"He has not made a decision," said Vincent Fry, Jackson's political director.

Ald. Howard Brookins (21st), a Jackson ally, said the chances are "probably better than 50-50" that Jackson will run after gauging the response from block club presidents at a series of town hall meetings. The congressman's interest in running for mayor is not about persuading Mayor Daley to back Jackson's pet project: a third airport at Peotone, Brookins said.

"It's bigger than Peotone. Being one of 435 congressmen as opposed to being the one mayor of Chicago where you directly influence a $5 billion budget is huge. You can impact the lives of people directly," Brookins said.

Referring to the city hiring scandal now making its way up the ladder at City Hall, Brookins said, "Clearly, if there's more indictments or something falls out of the sky that's negative to the mayor, that may tip the scale. But, it has more to do with how [Jackson is] perceived -- not only in the African-American community, but also in the majority community."

Will field a slate, regardless

Last week, CHA chief Terry Peterson resigned to run Daley's re-election campaign in the first concrete sign that Daley intends to shake off recent corruption scandals and seek a sixth term.

The next day, Brown officially entered the race.

Whether or not Jackson ultimately decides to join them, Brookins said the congressman is prepared to field a slate of aldermanic candidates, some of them also backed by the Service Employees International Union. The union was a prime mover behind the big-box ordinance now facing a threatened mayoral veto. It has been running classes to recruit and train potential aldermanic candidates.

"I heard the number is 20 [wards]. . . . They'll be all over, [including] Hispanic and some white ethnic wards," Brookins said.

Tom Balanoff of SEIU said, "We will definitely be looking at different aldermanic races. We'll be doing it based on SEIU. There may be some races where we're supporting the same candidate. Whatever [Jackson is] doing, he's doing. Whatever we're doing, we're doing. Whether it comes together" only time will tell.


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