Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza on Wednesday said she’s focused on her re-election efforts in November amid questions about whether she’d run for Chicago mayor next year.
Mendoza was mentioned as a possible mayoral candidate in the hours after Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he wouldn’t seek a third term next year, and sources said she was making calls to gauge support.
After a speech to the City Club of Chicago on Wednesday, the first-term Democratic comptroller said she was “fielding a lot of calls yesterday.” She did not say whether she’d join the crowded mayoral field, which is expected to grow between now and November when candidacy papers need to be filed.
“I’m not thinking about mayor right now,” she said. “I’m thinking about the next 62 days. … I think I would be great at any job I do, and I would never run for an office if I don’t think I’m the best person for that office. Right now I’m running for comptroller.”
“These next 62 days are no joke. I mean this is what it’s about. And then, you know, time will …” Mendoza said, pausing. “I don’t even want to talk about the mayor’s race, frankly, until after November.”
Asked later if she was ruling out a mayoral bid, Mendoza didn’t answer directly, again saying she is focused on her re-election campaign.
Illinois’ general election for statewide candidates is Nov. 6. The filing deadline for municipal races, including the Chicago mayor’s race is Nov. 26, giving any candidate an approximately three-week window between elections to gather the 12,500 valid signatures needed to get on the city’s mayoral ballot.
Mendoza’s speech to the City Club about transparency and her state office was scheduled long before Emanuel’s bombshell announcement Tuesday. To help open the talk, Mendoza seemed to nod toward the swirling speculation about who might line up to join the dozen candidates already set to take on Emanuel.
“We need to find a worthy successor to Mayor Emanuel,” she said. “Anybody have any ideas?”
Mendoza has been a top critic of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner after winning her first term as comptroller two years ago. She defeated the governor’s chosen candidate in a race that was viewed as a proxy war between Rauner and his chief political nemesis, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Before that, Mendoza won two citywide races for clerk in 2011 and 2015 and spent about 10 years in the Illinois House.
She was among the potential candidates on Wednesday making phone calls to big-dollar donors and political operatives to gauge support for a run, various political sources confirmed. That list includes: Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, former White House chief of staff Bill Daley, Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers, city Clerk Anna Valencia, 2011 mayoral candidate and lobbyist Gery Chico, Lakeview Ald. Tom Tunney and Michael Sacks, Emanuel’s close friend, confidant and top campaign donor who is the wealthy CEO of the investment firm GCM Grosvenor.
Chicago Tribune’s John Byrne and Bill Ruthhart contributed.
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September 5, 2018 at 04:36PM