By Abdon M. Pallasch
Chicago Sun-Times Political Reporter/
CHICAGO--Yes, President Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel did express an interest in running for his congressional seat again someday, a candidate for his seat said Sunday.
State Rep John Fritchey, D-Chicago, said he spoke with Emanuel when he was deciding whether to run for Emanuel's seat.
"He had commented to me that he may be interested in running one day again for the seat," Fritchey said. "I told him that should I be fortunate enough to run, and should I be fortunate enough to win the seat, I would look forward to campaigning against him."
The candidate most often mentioned as a potential seat-warmer for Emanuel, Mayor Daley's unofficial floor leader, Ald. Patrick O'Connor (40th) was conspicuous by his absence at Sunday's forum at DePaul University featuring 11 of the 13 Democrats on the ballot for the March 3 primary election. Sun-Times Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet asked the questions.
O'Connor has strongly denied running as a place-holder for Emanuel. University officials placed 10 telephone calls and e-mails to O'Connor, who never responded to any of them, they said. The 11th candidate, Pete Dagher, is fighting a ballot challenge to his petitions.
Physician Paul Bryar admitted being behind the ballot challenges to Dagher and economist Charlie Wheelan. Bryar said if Emanuel asked him about being a short-termer, "Should he ask, I will be glad to hold the seat for 20 years," Bryar said.
Emanuel and O'Connor could not be reached for comment.
All 11 candidates at the forum say that if elected, they would (or, in the case of State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, might) fight Mayor Daley's plan to privatize Midway airport.
"Privatization of public assets is like selling off your furniture in order to pay your mortgage," Fritchey said to loud applause from the 500 observers. "I don't think it's a prudent fiscal policy. In the long run what you are going to see are parking meters that cost $6 an hour, airport concessions that have tripled in price and its going to cost you five times what it used to cost you to cross the Skyway. Your job as a congressman is to represent the people... not simply to be accountable to Mayor Daley and take what he says as gospel."
All candidates but Frank Annunzio, great-nephew of the former congressman of the same name, say they would support the economic stimulus package.
Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley said it would bring more money to fix up the CTA, specifically, the slow zones on The Blue Line.
Candidate Roger Thompson admitted he had read only to Page 13 of the 567-page bill.
Candidates were divided on whether to investigate members of the Bush administration for their actions during the Iraq War or "look foreward" as Obama has said he would prefer.
Quigley, Wheelan, Annunzio, and Thompson said the country needed to move foreward, because, in Wheelan's words, "I fear that we would criminalize the political process."
That prompted one loud "Boo" from the audience.
Feigenholtz, Fritchey, attorney Tom Geoghegan, pilot Jan Donatelli, physician Victor Forys, all backed an investigation
Asked about the "Buy American" provision of the economic stimulus package, Wheelan predicted it could cost 20 percent more to buy steel in America and Annunzio agreed, "It's a lot cheaper to get materials from overseas."
But most other candidates supported it.
"We're not going to get out of this recession by putting money in the pockets of people who work in China," Forys said.