Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says he won’t run for re-election, saying it is time to step down

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chicago Mayor Daley won’t run for re-election

CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who has presided over the nation’s third-largest city for 21 years, announced Tuesday that he will not run for a seventh term.

Daley, 68, said he’d been thinking about not running for several months and became comfortable with his decision over the past several weeks.

“It just feels right,” Daley said at a news conference billed as a major cabinet announcement. “I’ve always believed that every person, especially public officials, must understand when it’s time to move on. For me that time is now.”

He called the announcement “a personal decision, no more, no less” and said he and his family now begin “new phase of our lives.”

The announcement not to run in the February election was made with little warning, but was not a surprise to everyone.

Daley has refused to say whether he would run again, fueling speculation that he might not, and his wife, Maggie, has been battling cancer.

“It’s a surprise because there’s been a Daley in the political system for so long,” said Alan Gitelson, a Loyola University of Chicago political science professor. “There’s always been this presence. It’s been really part and parcel part of the identity of the city to have a Daley in the mayor’s office.”

The announcement leaves an open door for White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who said in April during a television interview that “it’s no secret” he’d like to run for mayor of Chicago someday.

At the time, Emanuel called Mayor Richard Daley “a dear friend” and said he’s done “a fabulous job” as mayor. He said on Charlie Rose’s PBS talk show that he hopes Daley will seek re-election and said he’d work for Daley if he runs again.

“But if Mayor Daley doesn’t, one day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said. “That’s always been an aspiration of mine even when I was in the House of Representatives.”

The 50-year-old Emanuel is a one-time Daley adviser and a Chicago native. He was an Illinois congressman until he resigned to take his current White House post. A few days later, Daley said the two are friends but didn’t endorse Emanuel as his heir apparent. “I think there are many people out there who would be great mayors,” Daley said.

Daley was first elected mayor in 1989, following in the footsteps of his father, who died of a heart attack while still mayor in 1976 at age 74.

Associated Press Writer Sophia Tareen contributed to this report.

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