CHICAGO – Mayor Richard M. Daley announced Monday he will run for a sixth term, a move that could put him office longer than his legendary father.
"I'm proud of what we've accomplished together to improve the lives of the people of Chicago," Daley, 64, said in announcing his re-election bid.
The mayor will be facing some tough questions this time around, including dealing with the fallout from federal investigations into allegations of illegal political patronage and payoffs at City Hall.
Daley has not been accused of any wrongdoing. His former patronage chief, however, faces almost four years in prison for engineering a scheme to hide politics-based hiring by city offices. Other city workers have been caught up in bid-rigging and bribery scandals.
Former Chicago alderman and Cook County commissioner William Beavers, who was among the 200 people who attended the announcement, said he doesn't believe the scandal will hurt Daley.
"You've always had scandal; you always will have scandal because everybody's not honest," Beavers said.
Daley had been looking at two formidable opponents to his re-election bid — Democratic U.S. Reps. Luis Gutierrez and Jesse Jackson Jr. But after Democrats won control of Congress last month, the two congressmen chose to keep the higher profile positions awaiting them in Washington.
Other candidates who have said they intend to run for mayor are Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and William "Dock" Walls, a former aide to late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington.
Daley was first elected mayor in 1989. If he wins re-election on Feb. 27 and serves the full term, he will become Chicago's longest-serving mayor. His father served for 21 years before dying while in office.
Known as much for his quirky speech patterns as he is for major projects undertaken in the city, the younger Daley can remind voters of a list of accomplishments. Among them are taking over the Chicago Public Schools in 1995 and then the Chicago Housing Authority a few years later.
But some of his projects have also drawn controversy.
There was the nighttime run to close down the small lakefront airport Meigs Field so it could be turned into a park; a massive renovation of Soldier Field — the home of the Chicago Bears — that left some carping about its look; and the development of Millennium Park, a now popular downtown destination that was beset by construction delays and a ballooning price tag.
Now, Daley is hoping to lure the Olympics to Chicago. If the U.S. Olympic Committee decides to advance a U.S. city, the International Olympic Committee won't pick the 2016 host until 2009.