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Jesse Jackson Jr. Mulls Mayoral Run

The congressman says there's a 75% chance he'll seek the top job in local Chicago politics.

September 07, 2006|Dan Mihalopoulos | Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Sketching out an ambitious plan that he promised could change politics in Chicago, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. said Wednesday "it's more likely than not" that he would run for mayor next year.

In announcing the formation of a committee to explore his chances, the Democratic congressman said there was a 75% chance that he would run in the February 2007 election, and he sought to position himself as the most viable alternative to Mayor Richard M. Daley, also a Democrat.

To conduct a credible campaign, Jackson said it would require registering 100,000 new voters and raising between $4 million and $6 million. He also said he was working to recruit a slate of candidates for city clerk, city treasurer and about 15 City Council seats.

Jackson, however, declined to reveal the names of his exploratory committee members, who are scheduled to meet for the first time next week.

Jackson has been a frequent critic of the Daley administration. On Wednesday, he said Daley "has done, in some ways, an extraordinary job" but added that voters want change.

"I have received enthusiastic calls and messages from people throughout the city urging me to run for mayor of Chicago," Jackson said during a press conference on the lawn of his South Side home.

Two African Americans, including Dorothy Brown, clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court, have announced that they are running for mayor. Jackson is African American; Daley is white.

Daley was first elected 17 years ago and has handily defeated a series of challengers. But Daley supporters say privately that the most serious challenge to the mayor could come from a well-organized African American candidate who enjoys the sort of popular support that made Harold Washington the city's first black mayor 23 years ago.

Although Daley, 64, says he has not decided whether to run for reelection, he has begun forming a campaign team and last week hinted that only some unforeseen circumstance could prevent him from seeking a sixth 4-year term. The mayor sidestepped questions about potential challengers Wednesday.

"There is plenty of time for politics," Daley said when asked about Jackson and Brown, also a Democrat, who declared her candidacy last week. "My responsibility is to be the mayor on a daily basis."

Candidates have to declare for mayor by mid-December. Jackson, 41, said he would announce his decision in November.

He said he first ran for Congress 11 years ago on the advice of his wife, Sandi, and she said Wednesday that the time had come to bring his political career back home from Washington.

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