Preckwinkle has spent the last two days calling community members and potential campaign donors and asking them to join or support her exploratory committee, which would be unveiled less than a week after Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he would not seek a third term, the sources said. By launching a political fund for a possible bid, Preckwinkle’s move would represent the strongest sign yet of any new candidate contemplating an entry into the already crowded mayoral field.
A campaign representative did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
The Hyde Park Democrat’s exploration of a mayoral run would come while she is on the ballot for a third term as the county’s chief executive. Preckwinkle, 71, defeated former Ald. Bob Fioretti in the March primary, collecting 58 percent of the vote. She is unopposed in the November general election.
Preckwinkle, who also is the Cook County Democratic Party chairwoman, plans to keep her position as Cook County board president if she were to pursue a run for mayor, according to a source who spoke directly with Preckwinkle about her plans.
There are several political benefits in Preckwinkle quickly making the announcement and establishing a campaign committee.
For one, it would allow her to raise unlimited amounts of campaign cash toward a potential run. Unlike her county board race, the state campaign contribution limits in the mayor’s race were lifted earlier this year after millionaire businessman Willie Wilson decided to self-fund his campaign.
Another benefit: Making her mayoral intentions known now would give Preckwinkle a head start against another potential rival – state Comptroller Susana Mendoza, who is on the ballot this fall for that statewide office. She has said she is focused on that race, but did not rule out a run for mayor. Since Emanuel decided to walk away from a campaign, Mendoza and Preckwinkle aggressively have called labor leaders and wealthy donors to seek their backing for mayor, according to several sources who have spoken to both politicians directly.
Preckwinkle is a political heavyweight and one of the few remaining true machine bosses in the state’s Democratic Party, so making her intentions known early also might make other candidates weighing a run — including former White House chief of staff Bill Daley, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley and 2011 mayoral candidate Gery Chico — think twice about launching a run.
By announcing she will explore a run instead of just jumping in the race, Preckwinkle would continue to buy herself time to solidify support without having to engage with the other announced candidates in the field, who would take aim as she likely would enter with immediate status as the new frontrunner. Holding off on launching a formal campaign still might not stop the scrutiny from starting on Preckwinkle’s handling of county finances and her botched attempt at instituting a pop tax last year, which initially passed but later was abandoned under pressure from business interests.
Since Emanuel’s departure from the February 2019 mayor’s race, the existing field of more than a dozen candidates has been jockeying for position and insisting that anyone who gets in “post-Rahm,” isn’t truly interested in the job and fixing the underlying problems that led to their early runs against the mayor.
The better known candidates of the existing field include former Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy, former Chicago Public Schools CEO and onetime governor candidate Paul Vallas, former Chicago Police Board president Lori Lightfoot, Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and Wilson.
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September 7, 2018 at 10:30AM