Chicago mayoral hopeful Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) shot a warning on Tuesday morning to former President Bill Clinton, coming to Chicago to stump for rival Rahm Emanuel: Stay out.
Davis said that if Clinton did campaign for Emanuel, it would "fracture" and perhaps break his warm relationship with the African American community if he came "to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago's Black community."
Emanuel spokesman Ben LaBolt declined comment.
Emanuel is the front-runner in the Feb. 22 Chicago mayoral primary, a non-partisan election where if no one gets over 50 percent, then the top two contenders face an April 5 general election run-off.
Davis and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) are the leading African American candidates for mayor and neither of them, for now, shows any intention of dropping out in order to consolidate the city's African American vote. Last week, state Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) quit the race in the effort to boost the chance of the city electing an African American mayor. Even if one African American were in the contest, it could be tough to overtake Emanuel's lead: he is polling well in the African American community. Emanuel is the former White House chief of staff who served under President Obama--the first African American president.
After Moseley Braun lost her Senate re-election bid in 1996, Clinton appointed her in 1999 as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.
Emanuel owes his rise in politics to Clinton--he worked in 1992 presidential campaign and in his White House--and Clinton came to Chicago to campaign and fund-raise for Emanuel when he first ran for the House in 2002. On Saturday, Politico's Mike Allen had the scoop that Clinton would be coming to Chicago to campaign for Emanuel, which I confirmed that day with the Emanuel campaign.
Davis said in his statement:
"While we recognize the right of any individual to endorse and support any candidate that they so choose, I am seriously concerned and disturbed by press reports that former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to come to Chicago to campaign for Rahm Emanuel, who is a candidate for Mayor.
"The African American community has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Clintons, however it appears as though some of that relationship maybe fractured and perhaps even broken should former President Clinton come to town and participate overtly in efforts to thwart the legitimate political aspirations of Chicago's Black community.
"We respectfully request and urge former President Clinton not to become involved in the Chicago Mayoral Election."