It’s a little early in the game, but my bookie, Felix, will give you 2-1 odds on State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley winning the Democratic mayoral primary February 28, though he adds wryly that “if Eddie Burke could get Daley into a debate,” the odds would change drastically.
Another bookie of my acquaintance, Johan, gives Tim Evans 8-5 odds, even though there’s still a reasonable doubt that Evans will even run in the primary. Johan says, “Evans is the odds-on favorite to win the election, no matter when he runs. If he gets into the primary, he’ll win it. If he waits until the general, he’ll win that.” Felix, on the other hand, makes Evans a dark horse with odds of 5-1.
Johan says, “You can have any odds you want on Larry Bloom because he is one of the longest shots in the race.” Felix also gives Bloom long odds at 30-1. Felix gives acting mayor Eugene Sawyer odds of 10-1, despite the polls showing him up the track. Felix says, “Sawyer’s $4 million war chest could make a big difference. Hell, he can buy a lot of votes with all that money.” I remind him that Jane Byrne lost to Harold Washington in 1983 despite her $9 million war chest. “Hell,” he says, “she was bucking a crusade. No money can win against an honest crusade. But there’s no crusade going this time that I can see.”
Felix quotes his early line this way: Daley 2-1, Evans 5-1, Burke 10-1, Sawyer 10-1, Davis 25-1, Bloom 30-1. Johan puts Daley at 4-1, behind Evans at 8-5. He gives Sawyer the same odds as Felix does. Too late to make Felix’s line: former state representative James “Bull Jive” Taylor and Alderman Juan Soliz, both sniffing and snorting and threatening to enter the field.
I put my $10 on Bloom. If he wins, I clear $300. I like to play the long shots. But even I wouldn’t have bet on Ed Kelly; before he dropped out this week (just as we went to press), Felix was quoting him at 50-1, and it seemed clear that he wouldn’t be in the race very long. I tried for a month to interview him and he wasn’t talking. Of course his campaign manager, Frank Sullivan, may have figured that talking to the Reader would have been a waste of the candidate’s time, but Kelly didn’t seem to be talking to anyone else, either.
Evans was also silent. Since Evans can’t win without some portion of the lakefront vote, that did seem strange, but as his press chief, Sharon Jenkins-Brown, put it, “Tim likes to play it close to the belt. He’s probably not going to tell you about his strategy.” Evans hasn’t made up his mind whether to run in the primary or as an independent in the general election, and it seems that no one is going to know what he decides until December 19, the final day for filing nominating petitions. Brown did, though, give me the strategy paper prepared for Evans by his advisers Don Rose and James Andrews that was leaked to the Chicago Sun-Times a couple weeks ago. It urged him to run in the primary.
There isn’t much action, say Felix and Johan, in the Republican primary, but they’re still willing to give you odds on the likeliest candidates. There’s no odds-on favorite, no real dark horse either. Felix puts Don Haider, the 1987 Republican candidate who wound up with 4 percent of the vote in the general election, and Cook County Sheriff James O’Grady both at 3-1. Eddie Vrdolyak, big loser in the ’88 race for county clerk while carrying the northwest and southwest sides, gets 5-1 odds, Jane Byrne is 8-1, and businessman Kenneth Hurst, who filed the suit to delay the election until 1991 and lost, is 50-1, the long shot.
Even though no Republican has won the mayoralty in Chicago since 1927, this primary still makes an interesting race because of the horses. Personally, I would put my money on Vrdolyak because of his heart. He may finish out of the money, but he never gives up. But it’s not an easy choice. Jane Byrne is another wild horse that keeps on running regardless of the odds.
Just for the hell of it, I went into the backstretch to talk to the Democratic candidates, announced and unannounced, to find out what they think of their chances. As I said, Evans and Kelly wouldn’t talk. It took a month, but finally I got to Burke. Danny Davis, Larry Bloom, and Gene Sawyer responded right away. A “longtime friend and adviser,” Phil Krone, was authorized to talk for Daley, who hadn’t announced yet and intended to sound impenetrably high-minded when he did.
So how do these horses see the race? Here are their track-level views, given in alphabetical order:
“I remember talking to friends when we were going through the Democratic primary for president. The uniform opinion was that none of these guys are gonna win, but one had to. I have somewhat the same feeling with the mayoral. I don’t see how anyone can win, but one of us is going to. I think that Ed Burke has made it fairly clear that, if Rich Daley comes in, he will find it unacceptable to run. He’s changing his tune now to enhance his bargaining power.
“Here’s my theory: If Daley comes in, if Burke stays in, I stay in, and Evans and Sawyer stay in, I’m the only one whose base, even though it’s smaller than anyone else’s, stays together. I think I can hold a group of thoughtful, concerned voters from appeals from any of the rest of them. Plus, if they all stay in, some black voters–10, 20, 30 percent–will say, ‘My goodness, if we’re not going to get a black mayor, who is the best nonblack to support?’ I think I’ll get their votes. Third, it appears that registration gains are being made on the lakefront and that registration losses are taking place on the northwest and southwest sides, with the black and Hispanic votes staying about the same. Well, I think the lakefront vote is mine, so I might actually pull it out. So, if everybody stays in, I have a wonderful chance. It will take a lower percentage to win. And I will be the only one not competing with another candidate for a base I was expected to get.
“The problem with all that is that we don’t know, even if people stay in past the formal withdrawal date [December 24], whether in fact they’ll stay in till the bitter end. Remember Tom Hynes? He was in until three days before the election. It may be that all five of us stay in until the last five or ten days. That’s when the real winnowing will take place.
“The Sun-Times poll published October 31 showed me with 9 percent in a four-way race with Evans, Sawyer, and Daley. That poll was done right in the middle of Daley’s big publicity campaign for state’s attorney. Daley got 37 percent. Evans had 22, Sawyer had 10. Now, 13 percent of Daley’s straw vote was black. He had more black support than Sawyer. That told me that Daley’s effective strength, in the middle of an advertising blitz, in a four-way race where I am the only other white candidate, was only about 30 percent. He’s not going to get that black support when he turns on the black community and runs for mayor. He’s going to get the same black vote he had in 1983 when he was beaten three or four to one in the black community by Byrne. Nothing has happened since then to enamor him to blacks. In fact, many things have happened to lessen it. So that said to me that Daley’s strength is about 30 percent.
“The other thing that poll said to me was–they broke it down white and black–he had 53 percent of the white vote. Now, I was the only other white candidate in the race and Daley only had 53 percent. That told me that he’s no giant killer, even among white folks. It also showed that I had much less name recognition than any of the other candidates. Everybody else’s was 100 percent. They didn’t say what I had, but it’s clearly no more than about half. So it means that I have room to go to expand my base, whereas I think that the day Daley announces, he’s at the peak of his strength. He can only go down. I can only go up.
“Of the people who said that Daley was favorable or very favorable, a large percentage checked him off in the straw poll, while only 30 percent of the people who said I was favorable checked me off. They didn’t think I could win. It would be a wasted vote. That’s exactly what happened in the Washington campaign. Five weeks before the election, over 80 percent of the people said that Harold was the best candidate, but only 40 percent said they would vote for him. The whole campaign was to convince people he could win. I have to do the same thing.
“Another thing is that I’m different from any other candidate. I’m not going to be booed in the black churches as Daley or Burke might be. I’m not going to be ignored on the southwest side as Evans might be. I’m going to be acceptable to everyone and I’m going to play on that. I may not be everybody’s first choice, but everybody can live with me, and maybe that’s what the city needs. It’s hard to pick oneself as everybody’s second choice, but that may be reality.
“The essence of the campaign will be momentum. I will start at 9 percent and what I gain will be at the expense of every other candidate. My job will be to build on that momentum and to sustain myself financially. The problem will be to get black voters. They won’t be able to vote for me if there’s a crusade mentality operating. But I don’t think either Evans or Sawyer can create that mentality. But what about the off chance that Jesse Jackson enters the race? If he runs, there will certainly be a crusade mentality. He won’t get the white or other votes that Harold got, but he’s sure to get the black vote. And in a large field, that 40 percent could win. I never thought that Jesse would do it until the last couple days. Why was he saying at Operation PUSH that we’re now in a public safety crusade? It was strange. Why was he talking issues? It struck me, is he trying to tell me something? He may be thinking ‘If you have two candidates who don’t want to step down, if you don’t want to see a divided black vote, with that kind of discouragement in the black community, if you guys won’t do it, I’m going to do it.’ And of course, both of them will fade away. Now of course, Jesse likes to live by the unpredictable. Same thing is true of Vrdolyak. He beat Pucinski on the south- and northwest sides and I presume he could beat Daley or Burke. Can you think of a worse situation for Daley? To win the Democratic primary and face Evans and Vrdolyak in the general? Evans takes the black votes, Vrdolyak takes the ethnics, Daley’s got nothing. He’s got to face that possibility.
“Vrdolyak can be the candidate in the general election even if he doesn’t run in the primary. The Republicans can run a nominal candidate. Daley wins the Democratic primary. Evans holds back and runs as an independent in the general election. The Republicans have their candidate win their primary and then withdraw. Then the party gets together and appoints a substitute–Vrdolyak. All of a sudden, Daley is facing Vrdolyak and Evans. That’s why I’m not so sure Daley is going to run. [U.S. Congressman] Bill Lipinski told me that the only thing holding Daley back is Vrdolyak.”
Bloom ends our conversation by saying, “I love it. Nothing stops me from doing what I’m doing. My message stays the same regardless of who’s in.” Bloom accepts the odds Felix gives him and hopes I make my $300.
Eddie Burke is not so sure he’s in this horse race for good. He’s not sure yet whether he will turn tail and go back to the barn or finish first to the roar of the crowd. One thing is sure, he doesn’t much care for Felix’s 10-1 odds. “I think I’m the best candidate. If qualifications mean anything, I’ll win.” But he admits there are difficulties. “It’s a question of who winds up where,” he says, which is true of all horse races. “I’m very pleased so far with the response I’m getting. I’m quite pleased with the polling data. I’m getting better numbers on the lakefront now and polling shows me getting about 8 percent of the black vote, but I don’t think any white candidate should depend on black votes. But obviously, if it appears, when Daley announces, that he’s going to run over me like a Sherman tank, it wouldn’t make sense for me to stay in. So far we don’t have any good polling data yet. The Sun-Times-Gallup poll didn’t match me against Daley.
“For Daley to win, he’d have to drive me down as far as possible, hold me off on the northwest and southwest sides, and win the lakefront. It will be tough and expensive to do that. My emphasis will be to campaign on the lakefront and in the Hispanic community. [Burke’s main campaign office, other than his 14th Ward aldermanic office, is on the lakefront at 1614 N. LaSalle.] But it’s hard to get into those buildings on the lakefront. It’s going to take television, radio, phone banks, direct mail. [At this writing, Burke has about 200 volunteers lined up on the north side, but no formal organization.] We’re trying to enlist all these young professionals to be deputy registrars and start having them register voters. We think there are tens of thousands of people up there who aren’t registered. We’ll do the same thing in the Hispanic community. Some of the Hispanics who worked with me on the Finance Committee [staff] are active with me.”
Burke sees Evans “avoiding the primary, running in the general with the hope that a white candidate wins the Democratic primary and that there’s a strong white, like Vrdolyak, in the Republican slot to split the white vote. I don’t know whether Vrdolyak will run, but obviously, if Daley gets in, there’s real bad blood between those two. If I were definitely ahead, [Vrdolyak] wouldn’t run against me. He hasn’t any special ax to grind against me. He wouldn’t want to destroy my chances. But I think if he did run against me, he’d have a hard time making a case why anyone should vote for him over me. But every vote counts, and obviously he wouldn’t be taking them away from Evans.
“I think the Republican candidate, whoever he is, just because of the traditional voting patterns in this city, would get so few votes that it wouldn’t affect the outcome very much. Vrdolyak’s people aren’t dumb enough to vote for him and split the white vote again.”
Making his own book, Burke suggests that Evans will sit out the primary, and “obviously the blacks will sabotage Sawyer and throw their votes to whoever they think is the weakest white candidate so that Evans can win in the general. There are so many ingredients here that you can’t make a prediction. If Evans would sign on and stay in the primary, it would be like a nonpartisan election. I think, given the right scenario, I could win. Given any scenario, neither Sawyer nor Bloom could win. And given the right scenario, Daley or Evans could win also.”
DALEY (PHIL KRONE)
“My own thought is that while all the candidates have their strengths and abilities, in terms of electability the only candidate who can beat Tim Evans is Rich Daley. If Sawyer runs in the Democratic primary, Evans won’t. He’ll run in the general as an independent. At least we’re making that assumption, although Don Rose is urging him to run in the primary. If he doesn’t, and I don’t think he will, he certainly won’t do anything to help Sawyer win, because then you’d have, in the general election, Sawyer on the Democratic ticket and a white Republican, with a repeat of 1983 where most of the whites turned Republican overnight, and Sawyer and Evans would lose.
“It doesn’t really matter who runs in the primary as long as Evans isn’t in the race. The Democratic primary will be a horse race with Daley in first place. The white vote is not going to split; the preponderant majority of the white vote, no matter how many candidates, is going to go to Rich Daley. It should be noted that, as a result of his massive victory in November, there is no office in Cook County or statewide that he isn’t in natural contention for. My assumption is that there will be an independent poll that will show Daley so far ahead that the others will want to drop out.
“I don’t think there will be a summit meeting where people will say there was a back-room meeting where deals were made. There’ll be a meeting of minds. I think that what you’re going to see is a lot of leaders of the Democratic Party saying ‘We want order, we want stability, we want a strong mayor, and Daley’s the guy. He’s the guy who can win.’ Daley can win because he can take plenty of black votes. Even if blacks prefer a black mayor, it doesn’t mean they have antipathy for Rich Daley. He just received more than 80 percent of the black vote for state’s attorney when there was an organized opposition to it. There’s a good chance he could get 10 to 15 percent of the black vote running against Evans–the vote that Byrne got as an incumbent or maybe middle-class voters concerned with property values and taxes. I don’t know on what basis it would be. I wouldn’t suggest that Rich spend his time organizing in the black community if he knows that he’s going to get maximum 25 percent of the votes, but he certainly would campaign everywhere.
“Interestingly, I think that, in their hearts, most of the black elected officials want Rich to be mayor, too. They can’t come out for him, they can’t support him. But they’re not going to do anything to hurt him more than they have to. The reason is that a black mayor tends to be able to deal around and above the committeemen. Certainly Washington did. But a white mayor has to deal effectively with the black elected leadership. And, in the white community, most of the elected officials aren’t as concerned with that as they are with getting an agenda done that they know Daley as mayor would be in tune with.
“The big battle in this campaign–where the swing votes are–is with the Hispanics, and Rich does very well with them. As far as the lakefront is concerned, Evans doesn’t know how badly hurt he is by Coleman and Shiller [Slim Coleman and 46th Ward Alderman Helen Shiller]. Sometimes support hurts you more than opposition. I think that that connection hurt Evans last December and will hurt him again. Let’s remember that Eddie Vrdolyak carried the lakefront against Washington. Daley is much stronger than Vrdolyak and Evans is weaker than Washington.
“I don’t mean by any of this to take away from Ed Burke’s ability, but it is difficult to overcome five years of association with Vrdolyak during the Washington years and another four previous to that with Byrne. Although he’s not deserving of that view, it’s pretty hard during the tumult of a campaign to get people to look at things objectively, and I don’t think there’s enough time to get the change he would need to win. There was logic in his running because it would ultimately give him a role in saying who will run. But if he and Kelly are running in order to make deals with Daley, I can tell you that Rich is not a wheeler-dealer. Which is one of the things that showed up in 1983. A lot of the committeemen were not happy with the idea of Rich replacing Byrne because they didn’t think the banquet table would be set so freely.
“Besides, I can’t see Burke leaving his private law practice to become state’s attorney, which is what people are saying he is angling for. The reason he ran for state’s attorney last time was because Byrne forced him into it in a grudge fight with Rich, but that was years ago. His practice has built up tremendously since then. He’s a very successful lawyer.
“I’m pretty sure there will only be three candidates in the primary–a white, Sawyer, and Bloom. You have to talk to Jacky Grimshaw to find out what the Evans people do with the black vote in the primary. They obviously don’t want Sawyer to win. I think the Evans people might just keep their people home, as much as they can. I think Daley wins that three-way primary. I don’t even understand Bloom’s presence at that point. Bloom should only be a candidate in a large field. If there’s a large field, I don’t think Rich will be in it. But even in a large field, he may be so far above everybody else it wouldn’t make any difference. Obviously, he doesn’t want to run for the exercise.
“In the general election, it’s going to be a three-way race with Evans, a white Democrat, and a Republican. Daley could take that without any trouble. The Republican would be eclipsed. If Vrdolyak ran, it would only be understood as a candidate who can’t win. I don’t see him running. He wouldn’t carry anything, even his own ward. He’d be considered a maniac.”
When he announced last Monday, Daley told reporters it didn’t matter to him what other white candidates he ran against. “I don’t need anyone in or out of this race,” Daley said. “If I stood here wondering who’s in or out, what the odds are, what the scenarios are, I would not be running for mayor of Chicago. I’m running and I’m going to win.” He added, “I’m not making any deals, any agreements with any of the candidates about anything.”
This splendid orator, who has 25-1 odds against him, seems all too cognizant of those odds while hoping that lightning will strike. As of this writing, he has raised and spent on his campaign, he says, about $100,000. He has offices on the far south side, on the lakefront, and downtown. “I kind of do things motivated by my perception of what needs to be done. I had not planned on Harold Washington’s death and therefore this race. But the situation arose. Of the three black candidates, I think I would have the greatest potential of winning, but it may not work out that way.
“The ultimate scenario for this race is going to be one progressive-type candidate who, in all probability, will be black, one conservative candidate who will be white, of ethnic extraction, and possibly another candidate–Daley, Bloom, and one of the three blacks. I think there will only be one black candidate because the potential for a black to win otherwise won’t be there. If Gene Sawyer, Rich Daley, Tim Evans, and Larry Bloom were running, I don’t believe that Evans or Sawyer could win. If Danny Davis were in it, he couldn’t win either. So I think we will have one black candidate. I think it’s going to be difficult for anyone to yield because I think everyone has a specific public interest for running that goes beyond any personal need to run. Sawyer has sold himself on the idea that, with his moderate personality, moderate stance, he might have some potential to foster a certain climate in the city among the racial and ethnic groups.
“Tim feels that he is the inheritor of the Washington apparatus, the Washington legacy. And of course, he believes he has the capacity and ability to run the government. I agree that Tim could run the government, but I don’t believe that leadership is passed on. You don’t inherit it. You have to earn it. You have to work for it yourself. A lot of polls show that Tim is the heir, but I don’t believe it.
“My public-interest motive is that to solve or even to move seriously toward finding real solutions to social problems, the mayor needs to be action-oriented, a person who will not only manage things judiciously but will use the inspirational potential of the office to stimulate people to become actively involved in working toward solutions. One of the things that has always fascinated me about regular political organizations in Chicago is that they were not problem-solving entities. They always leave the problems to the community organizations, the professionals, and the philanthropic organizations. Their function is merely to take the city as it is and respond only to crises. I think Gene and Tim grew up in that kind of political environment, and I don’t see an action orientation in either of them.
“Gene has lots of money. Tim has a certain level of support. And so do I. I don’t believe any of the polls I’ve seen. I know enough about polling to know that you can frame questions to get certain responses. I think many of the people who have been doing the polling already have their minds focused on certain outcomes.
“I don’t think there will be any additional mechanisms like the plebiscite [a black community meeting that endorsed Davis]. Now there will be more informal mechanisms. Lots of discussions, additional polling. It’s like playing poker. Only the first hand has been dealt. Many people have not lined up behind a candidate because they’re waiting to go with just one. They don’t want to be involved in picking one. They just keep saying ‘You all work it out between you. You need to go into a room.’ I run into people who say ‘Anybody but Sawyer,’ or ‘I could go with either you or Tim.’ And there are those supporting Sawyer, but I don’t run into them. A solution must be reached, but how it will happen is not clear yet. Most people who know this city and understand something about its politics know how isolated and divided the people are. They know that a majority of the large population groups vote on the basis of race. But we’re not going to solve the problems of the city until we have one leader who can unify the city. The reason that Mayor Daley could come out of Springfield and Washington with goodies for Chicago was that the legislative delegations all supported their notions of Chicago–Mayor Daley’s notion–but there was that kind of unification.”
Could Davis sit down with Sawyer and Evans and pick one candidate? “I don’t think that’s out of reach,” he says. “We need to keep our eye on the prize, which is trying to make sure Chicago ends up with a progressive rather than a conservative mayor. That has to be the bottom line. I think we all agree on that. None of us has had time to amass any real power. We have to sit down as reasonable people, fairly equal. Gene may be the mayor, but he didn’t get 700,000 votes to get there. And Tim had a following on December 1 last year, but that was almost a year ago. Some people might become very angry, some might become mortal enemies, but the goal has to supersede everything else. I don’t think either Gene Sawyer or Tim Evans would jeopardize the progressive element in town just because they couldn’t withdraw.
“My own efforts have been designed to promote the Davis record, philosophy, and potential with the realization that you really don’t know with 100 percent certainty what the outcome will be, but feeling that a meeting of the three must come about.”
Davis’s own book? “If the race contains one black candidate and Daley and Bloom, any black can win.”
EVANS (DON ROSE and JAMES ANDREWS)
On November 8, the two advisers to Evans submitted a memo titled “Some Strategic Thoughts.” It was immediately leaked to the political editor of the Sun-Times, Steve Neal. Sharon Jenkins-Brown, Evans’s press chief, seemed not at all perturbed by the leak, and when Evans wouldn’t be interviewed, she gave me the memo as a consolation prize.
Rose and Andrews agree with Johan the bookie that Evans is the horse to beat. They assert: “This race is clearly winnable, essentially following a familiar historical pattern, that is, a strong and solid black base coupled with the progressive-reform element of the white community, a significant share of the Latino vote, and the loyalty of other smaller, but still important minority groups such as Asians and Native Americans.”
(One is tempted to ask whether the example set by Harold Washington can safely be called a familiar historical pattern.)
“There are complications here relating to multiple black candidates, but we believe they are surmountable, as in the Daley question, so long as we focus on the key theme: that this election is not about race–it is about reform and the promise of the future.” (All the italics in this section are the advisers’.)
The advisers provide statistics to show that blacks can be expected to make up 46 percent of the total registered vote next January, and observe that registration is up on the lakefront, where “we can find our greatest concentrations of white support,” and that “we begin with a solid base in [the Latino] community . . .”
According to Rose and Andrews, polling data show that “we start with a voting base of between 52 and 60 percent of the Black electorate . . . which is precisely the number Harold Washington polled on February 16, 1983, prior to the ultimate solidification of the Black vote. . . . We start with Black favorable ratings of between 74% and 80% which is only 10 points less than Harold Washington polled after he had begun his second campaign for Mayor . . . We start with very low white numbers (between 3% and 6%), but our favorable ratings among whites have increased dramatically in recent weeks, especially along the lakefront, where we have seen a 10 point jump . . . The data indicate that a white vote of 10% to 15% is certainly a possibility . . .”
According to the authors, only Daley, Evans, and Burke can be considered serious contenders. Daley’s white support can be expected to “increase dramatically,” Rose and Andrews say, while his black support has already begun to fall. Burke’s white base, without Daley in the race, they say, is strong. “Although his approval numbers are not as high as Daley’s, the white vote will fall in behind him, just as it did behind Ed Vrdolyak (who practically defines negative ratings) if Daley doesn’t get in the race.” Andrews and Rose all but dismiss Bloom, Kelly, and Davis. As for Sawyer, they call him “a walking electoral disaster area, with lower numbers and approval ratings for an incumbent than any we have ever seen. Even Jane Byrne at her lowest ebb . . . was pulling twice as many blacks and more than three times as many whites.” The authors then go on to analyze whether Sawyer can “draw enough votes to doom an Evans candidacy.” Historical evidence from other cities, they say, suggests that “block voting in the Black community will drive Sawyer’s numbers down to a point where Evans can win the race.”
Andrews and Rose point out that “as long as the election plays out as a pure Black vs White race,” Evans’s opportunities to expand his base will be much harder. They advise their candidate to “stress through our entire campaign that the election is about reform versus machine and past versus future.”
The immediate leaking of this strategy memo to the Sun-Times and its availability to me may indicate that Evans will enter the primary. He may be convinced that Sawyer is not strong enough even to split the black vote, while Evans is strong enough among lakefront voters, Hispanics, and others to beat Daley, who Andrews and Rose believe will be the candidate to beat.
On the other hand, Sawyer’s $4 million war chest and the commercials he is already airing on black radio accusing Evans of being a spoiler may overcome Evans’s advantages.
“We’re having a lot of research done on horse-race questions as well as issues and so on, though we’re not so concerned with horse-race questions as issues. I really don’t think there’ll be but one white opponent and that will be Daley, unless Jane Byrne gets in, which she said she would. But I think the major, the most formidable person, would be Rich Daley. I just don’t think the other people will remain in the race. Burke and Kelly are stalking-horses for Daley. Kelly wouldn’t get any votes in the black community at all because of the history of the Park District and the discrimination suits that were filed and won. And there’s very little support for him citywide. He might even get less than Vrdolyak in the white community [this interview was conducted before the November 8 election in which Vrdolyak carried the northwest- and southwest-side wards]. I just don’t believe that the party and the ethnic community will allow them to keep two white major candidates in the race, recognizing that the split that occurred in ’83 could occur again.
“I’m not sure why Burke is in this race. Politicians do things for a number of reasons. You raise a lot of money, number one. Maybe not the amount you need to run a real first-class campaign, but you can raise a lot of money. It gives you an opportunity to have a war chest to fight future battles. It gives you an opportunity to do something else. I dont know what Burke wants to do, but I dont think he’s going to stay in the race.
“I haven’t talked to Jane Byrne recently. Maybe she will get in because she feels that if Daley hadn’t gotten in in ’83, she would have been mayor.
“As far as Danny Davis is concerned, he had a desire for a long time to be a congressman and I don’t think he’ll remain in the race. Basically, he is stalking for the congressional race in 1990. Preparing himself for that because, there again, you can raise money that you don’t have to spend now and maybe that’s what he’s doing. He certainly has been in this for a long time.
“Tim Evans has been announcing his candidacy for the last six months. I guess they pushed him into making it formally. He seems to have been reluctant to make the announcement, but his campaign shoved him into it. I have not really gone after Tim at all and there are many reasons for it. Now that he’s a candidate, there’ll be a different posture. . . . I knew Harold longer than Tim did, worked with him longer than Tim did, and the statement that he endorsed Harold in ’82 is simply not true. People know better. They can look at newspaper accounts and know that he was in the other camp in ’82. I endorsed Harold in November ’82. I don’t think Tim endorsed him until after the primary, when he got caught in his own runoff and was saved by Mayor Washington. I don’t think he’s the key broker of the Washington administration. In February of ’87, Washington pulled his operation away from Tim and turned it over to John Stroger because he was dissatisfied with the way it was going. He felt he needed more experienced political people in there. If Harold hadn’t done that, we might have had a different result. Now, Tim’s ward registration is down by about 3,000 from 1983. Mine is down 154 people. I just looked at all those figures.
“There will be an effort to devise a consensus between the three of us, but I’m sitting here. There are advantages for the person who sits here and I’m going to work all of them, every one that I can, to try and continue to sit here. There are a lot of people who support me and people have not surfaced yet. A lot of people haven’t said anything yet. There are a lot of people who don’t know who I am.
“Assuming that I am the black candidate and that Daley is the white candidate, it’ll be a race for the roses. I’ll have to get–and I’m sure I will–a strong base in my own community, some support from the Hispanic community. We’ve had some dialogue with the Asian community, where there are a large number of registered voters who have been overlooked. This past week, I made some Asian appointments. I visited with them many times. I think their numbers are significant enough to reach out to them.
“And then, of course, I’ll have to get some white votes. I looked at Burke’s poll and it showed me getting 32 percent. I wouldn’t think that would happen in an election; I wouldn’t be that naive. But I do think we’ll get a reasonable number of white votes. Burke’s poll showed me getting 44 percent of the lakefront, which I don’t believe either. But that’s probably more the reason he’d rather have me in than Tim, because Tim will really get [just] 12 to 14 percent. So I don’t really know. I don’t think any of those numbers will hold. But I think I might get as much as 20 percent, and that didn’t happen before. Mayor Washington got only about 15 percent.
“There are other things to do in the campaign. Daley has a record in the state’s attorney’s office to look at that no one’s really looked at. What’s he done in the area of minority hiring? It’s not very good. I’ve heard it’s terrible. And there should be something the state’s attorney can do to keep some of these folk in jail that they’re letting out. We already have a very serious crime problem. Safety is going to be a real issue.”
In the weeks ahead, the race may narrow down, as Eugene Sawyer expects, to two candidates–himself and Daley; or there may still be six, or five, or four, or three horses in the field. Daley, Burke, Bloom, Evans, Sawyer, and Davis have from December 12 to December 19 to file nominating petitions, and until December 24 to withdraw. Of course, they can just quit running any time before February 28, election day.
Perhaps after six years of a black mayor, Chicago’s whites will not be so frightened and angry at the idea of another black mayor. Perhaps blacks won’t feel so intensely that the mayor they elect must be black. Richard Daley and Aurelia Pucinski ran well and won in November in the black community. One thing is certain: a crowded field offers more hope that race will not be the only factor influencing the vote. Certainly, we would all prefer a genuine horse race.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Slug Signorino; photos/Bruce Powell, Stuart-Rodgers-Reilly Photography, Marc PoKempner.