WASHINGTON--Two potential Chicago mayoral candidates--Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel--huddled here Wednesday night; earlier on Wednesday, Jackson Jr. met with two other maybe Chicago mayoral contenders, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.)
On Thursday, Jackson said he discussed with Emanuel the state of the city and the Nov. 2 elections. On the Feb. 22 mayoral primary, Jackson said they "agreed that every possible contender should conduct their effort on the moral high ground because our city deserves a very serious debate about its economic future."
Jackson Jr. and Emanuel are two of the more than 20 names--including Jackson wife Ald. Sandi Jackson and ally state Sen. James Meeks) who are mulling running for mayor in the wake of Mayor Daley's Sept. 7 surprise decision to not seek a seventh term next year.
Jumping in the mayoral race is a major life changing event for Emanuel and his family, who moved to Washington last year to be with Emanuel while he is posted at the White House. If he runs, he closes the door on a big chapter of his life.
For members of Congress and the Illinois General Assembly, a decision to run for mayor in 2011 has fewer personal consequences; they are up for re-election in even number years. They can be defeated in a City Hall bid and still have a fall back elected position. Aldermen who want to run have more to consider; the entire 50-member Chicago City Council is up for election at the same Feb. 22 municipal election.
Jackson Jr. has been an outspoken Daley critic; Emanuel has been a staunch Daley defender. Early in his career, Emanuel was a Daley fund-raiser.
Jackson Jr. said in a statement, "On Monday, September 13th I met with Reverend Senator James Meeks, who is my pastor, my friend and the godfather of my children. On Wednesday, September 15th, I met with Luis Gutierrez and Danny Davis, both of whom are colleagues of mine, and I had a private meeting with my former colleague and my friend Rahm Emanuel. And I talk to Alderman Sandi Jackson every day. Everyone is talking about the mayor's race.
"Rahm and I agreed that the city's financial crisis puts Chicago at a tipping point. The ramifications of this tipping point could tear at the social, political and economic fiber that holds our city together and makes it great. Both of us are very concerned about the upcoming November 2nd election and the subsequent municipal elections, and agreed that every possible contender should conduct their effort on the moral high ground because our city deserves a very serious debate about its economic future."