Members of the Chicago City Council’s Black Caucus say four mayoral candidates have emerged as semi-finalists in the search for a consensus candidate, but they won’t reveal any names just yet.
Caucus Chairman Walter Burnett, the 27th Ward alderman, says the group leading the search — the Chicago Coalition for Mayor — will meet privately sometime later this week to discuss the four candidates.
The coalition held a candidates forum on Saturday that included state Sens. Rickey Hendon and James Meeks; U.S. Rep. Danny Davis; former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun; U.S. Sen. Roland Burris; state Rep. Annazette Collins; Urban Prep Academy founder Tim King; perennial candidate William “Dock” Walls; Rev. Patricia Watkins; civil rights lawyer Christopher Cooper; and retired colonel Tony Daggett.
The Chicago Coalition for Mayor — which includes elected officials, community groups and business leaders — had scheduled a meeting on Monday and hoped to announce a consensus candidate on Tuesday, according to public relations firm Danielle Ashley Communications, which has been retained by the coalition.
But the meeting ended up being rescheduled for later this week because too few members attended. Burnett said supporters of Scott Lee Cohen also showed up and derailed the meeting by trying to bolster support for the independent gubernatorial candidate.
Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) said the setback at Monday’s meeting is no indication that there’s trouble within the coalition.
“There’s always concerns when there are mixed opinions,” she says. “Everybody has an opinion. When you can keep that intact — that we’re going to still try and go along with this process — that doesn’t mean you can’t interject in the process.”
Burnett said the coalition is in no hurry to select a consensus candidate for the Feb. 22 election to replace retiring Mayor Richard Daley.
“You don’t really know if anyone’s going to run until after the petitions get in and if they get on the ballot,” he said. “We’re doing our due diligence and trying to get someone before that time, but if that doesn’t happen, we still have time.”
The deadline to file a petition to run is Nov. 22.
Austin agreed there’s no need for the coalition to rush to reach consensus.
“So that Rahm (Emanuel) can mount up his campaign? So if we announce A, B, C, [he can say,] ‘Oh, I can beat him. Oh I can beat her.’ No,” she said. “It makes us more credible if we — as aldermen, committeemen, community members, ministers, activists — support an individual.”