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Rep. Danny Davis to Bill Clinton, Obama: Stay Out of Chicago Mayoral Race

3 years ago
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Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), who is running for mayor of Chicago, has a message for former President Bill Clinton (coming to the city next month to stump for Davis rival Rahm Emanuel) and President Obama (who helped launch Emanuel's campaign): Stay out.

As long-ago Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.) once said, "All politics is local," and in this case, Davis doesn't want the current and former presidents to bolster the candidacy of Emanuel, the front-runner.

Emanuel has strong ties to both men. He was a fundraiser in Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and went on to be a senior adviser in the Clinton White House. And he was Obama's chief of staff, who got quite a boost from the president when Obama hosted a White House departure ceremony for Emanuel the day he quit the administration to return to Chicago to run for mayor.

Rep. Danny DavisEmanuel is vacationing in Thailand and his spokesman, Ben LaBolt, declined to comment about Davis' remarks.

Davis told me in an interview, "There are lots of people who supported the Clintons here as well as the president. I think it would be great if they both took a neutral position." The Clinton plural reference is to wife Hillary, now the secretary of state.

But Davis' words were stronger in a statement he issued, which warned Bill Clinton to stay out of Chicago politics and which waded into the racial politics that are part of the city's fabric.

"The African American community has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Clintons, however it appears as though some of that relationship may be fractured and perhaps even broken should former President Clinton come to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago's Black community," Davis said in the statement.

Davis has his own ties to Clinton: In 1992, when Clinton needed to win the Illinois primary to clinch the presidential nomination, the Arkansas-born Davis was one of the influential political leaders who backed his bid.

A Clinton spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

Davis and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) are the leading African-American candidates in the mayoral race. Braun, by the way, was tapped by Clinton to be ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa after she lost her re-election bid. Neither she nor Davis is inclined at this point to drop out in order to consolidate the African-American vote. Last week, state Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago), himself African-American, dropped out in order to boost the chances of an African American being elected mayor.

Braun on Wednesday, echoing Davis, on Wednesday issued her own warning to Clinton, asking him to stay away from the Chicago mayoral election or risk a backlash from African Americans.
In 1983, racial politics played a role in electing the late Harold Washington the first black mayor of the city with a unified black vote and a white vote that split between then-Mayor Jane Byrne and then-Cook County State's Attorney Richard M. Daley.

But the Feb. 22 non-partisan election is run under a different voting system than was used in 1983. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote that day, the top two finishers face off on April 5. (The new mayor will take office on May 16.) Also, there are two Hispanics running -- attorney Gery Chico and City Clerk Miguel Del Valle -- which further complicates the politics. With Emanuel a strong front-runner, the contest now is for second place.

Davis told me in an interview he is not playing a race card. And he told WGN-TV that he wasn't against Obama and Clinton interfering in the mayoral race -- if they wanted to endorse him.

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30 Comments

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Ralph and Ana

We elected President Obama without regard to the color of his skin, I hope that chicago can do the same for their Mayor.
I wonder if davis wants all his supporters to be black and will disclaim any support from whites.
Obviously, Tip O'Neill was wrong.

December 30 2010 at 1:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hello Mr. Yaseen

Perhaps Mr.Davis has had a memory lapse. As I recall the term "free speech" applies to all of us. I am a resident of Chicago and while Mr. Davis has the right to his opinion, he truly should look up the definition of "Democracy". Former President Clinton has every right to address the residents of Chicago as to the worthiness of Mayoral candidates.

December 29 2010 at 6:02 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
sweetcaroline100

Is it okay to run for mayor of Chicago if one is a citizen of both the United States and a foreign country? Emanuel holds two passports. Just curious.

December 29 2010 at 3:44 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply
Scottilla

Davis endorsed Obama for president. Turnabout is fair play.

December 29 2010 at 2:31 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
ezek37

Twenty states are passing laws that would require any presidential candidate to show proof of birth in the USA. Obama will have to show his birth certificate or not be illegible to be on the ballot. If this happens I think Hillary will probably run again.

December 29 2010 at 1:50 PM Report abuse +22 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ezek37's comment
revblueroof

And all twenty of those laws will be ruled unconstitutional, even by the republican Supreme Court. States do not set the qualifications for the presidency the constitution does. Now, take you birther foolishness to a comment board which deals with the presidency not to one that deals with the mayor's race in Chicago.

December 29 2010 at 2:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tistolaugh

Many have forgotton or forgiven the stain of scandals left by the Clintons on America's tainted White House. Clearly many others have not.

December 29 2010 at 1:30 PM Report abuse +34 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to tistolaugh's comment
giantde1156

chi towns a mess and another term of liberals isnt going to fix it.

December 29 2010 at 1:01 PM Report abuse +37 rate up rate down Reply
grant06

Of course this guy doesn't want either the President or former President campaigning for his rival, duh. According to a recent survey, President Obama is the most respected man in the United States. Who wants to run against that?

December 29 2010 at 1:00 PM Report abuse -46 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to grant06's comment
georgeanderson2

Mr. Davis had quite a compelling argument--right up until his shameless playing of the race card. Go ahead and leave that political tacting back in the 80's where it belongs, Mr. Davis.

December 29 2010 at 12:33 PM Report abuse +30 rate up rate down Reply
Drewboy60

Two peas in a pod: Obama and Clinton.Chicago deserves better than more of the same.With Emanuel or Davis, nothing will change for the better.

December 29 2010 at 12:22 PM Report abuse +46 rate up rate down Reply

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