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Daley Silent on Endorsement, Eyes Fed Money Instead

By Hunter Clauss in News on Jan 7, 2009 6:15PM

Mayor Daley yesterday said he would stay out of the crowded 5th Congressional District race, which once included more than 20 candidates competing for the seat formerly held by Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Daley’s decision sets the stage for what could be an open primary on March 3, which some critics say might be disastrous with such a smorgasbord of candidates (others say it’s just democracy in action). Without the influence of an endorsement from Daley, candidates for the seat must now charm Democratic ward committeemen if they want to be the party frontrunner. Committeemen, a shadowy bunch who are elected and often members of the Chicago City Council, are charged with deciding party candidates in various races. Alderman William Banks (36) told the Sun-Times that he hopes committeemen will meet sometime in the next two to three weeks for a vote. “Right now, it seems to be fairly fragmented. If it stays every man for himself, virtually anybody could get elected. . . . It could be somebody totally unrepresentative of the district. That would be unfortunate,” he said.

As Daley chooses to remain silent in that fight, he’s become vocal about plans to go around the state government in seeking federal funds from President-Elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan (perhaps the two share an Adam West bat phone in their offices). "Mayors are going directly to the federal government. They have to. We can't wait. You can't allow Springfield to take your money, hold the interest, then eventually give it to you in the middle of winter. You'll never get the job done in the middle of winter," he said.

What isn’t clear about the mayor’s plan is how the city will provide matching funds in order to qualify for the federal money. Chief Financial Officer Paul Volpe revealed last week that there is a $31 million deficit in the city’s budget due to tanking economy, which means more belt tightening may be in order if things continue to get worse. So those side streets might not be cleared of snow for too long.

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