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Poll Shows Daley's Vulnerable, But Will Anyone Challenge Him?

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jul 19, 2010 2:50PM

Photo by Chicagoist alum Kate Gardiner

Overshadowed by violence, music, and fake robots this weekend, the Tribune and WGN released the results of a recent poll examining the approval rating of Mayor Daley and guess what? It was really low. But does it even really matter? The poll was taken from 500 registered city voters last week and Daley's approval came in at just 37 percent, a result of weary voters fed up with parking meters, failed Olympic bids, political corruption, and violence. And, according to the Trib: "Moreover, a record-low 31 percent said they want to see Daley re-elected, compared with 53 percent who don't want him to win another term."

But if recent local history has taught us anything, it's that there's a good chance those numbers won't matter come February. In 2007, ahead of his last reelection, Daley's approval rating in a similar Trib/WGN poll was a similarly low 41 percent. And, yet, in that election, he won without breaking a sweat, barely making an effort and grabbing 71 percent of the vote. And, as of right now, there doesn't seem to be much of a challenge. In fact, the slate is so clear right now, Daley hasn't even bothered to make his run at reelection official even if some of his moves are pointing in that direction and as he dismissed the poll numbers over the weekend with barely any comment at all.

So who will step up and take Daley on? Will it be a worthwhile candidate or a sacrificial lamb?

It's all speculation but that won't keep us from guessing. Former city Inspector General David Hoffman has been mentioned several times, particularly due to his former role as Daley's foil, but it's doubtful he'll have the money and energy to do so coming out of this past winter's primary loss in the race for U.S. Senate. Perhaps the best chance at a "real" opponent will come from Daley's rubber stamp the City Council: Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), one of the few aldermen to actually stand up to Daley on several issues. Wags was one of five aldermen to vote "NO" on the controversial parking meter deal as well as taking Daley on over his budget.

In the wake of these new poll numbers, speaking to the Sun-Times, Wags said he's considering making a run for City Hall. Of course, saying your seriously considering it and then actually doing it are two different things. Rahmbo has already gone on record as saying, sure, I'd like to be mayor but he won't oppose Daley. Same goes for Aldermen Robert Fioretti (2nd) and Tom Allen (38th) whose names are also mentioned as possible opponents but, again, no one's made a serious move, as in announcing an official run or raising money (Wags told the S-T he'd need about $2 million for a serious run). Speaking of money, Fran Speilman at the S-T says Daley only has $1.9 million in his war chest for a reelection run but we just don't see raising cash as a serious issue MayDay will have to face to defend his throne. If there's one thing that's been proven time and again, it's that he has friends with deep pockets.

Yes, Daley seems vulnerable right now. And even as he drags his feet on announcing his run for reelection, it's because he faces no serious challenge; he doesn't have to rush himself. The window of opportunity, however big or small that may be, will close quickly as we move from summer to fall to early winter and if no one makes a play soon, MayDay will cruise to a seventh term in office. Maybe he'll only get by with 65 percent of the vote, but he'll still get by. While frustration with political corruption in the city is high, apathy is higher and without a serious candidate to galvanize those who want a change on the Fifth Floor, it'll be another round of next verse, same as the first come February's election.