CHICAGO – Mayor Richard M. Daley won a sixth term Tuesday, overcoming a City Hall corruption scandal and putting himself on course to eclipse his legendary father's record as the city's longest-serving mayor.
Daley, first elected in 1989, had been expected to collect more than 50 percent of the vote, easily avoiding an April runoff. Votes were still being tallied late Tuesday.
Serving out another full four-year term would keep him on the job for 22 years. His father, Richard J. Daley, died in office in 1976 at age 74, having served 21 years.
After voting near his home on the city's South Side, Daley, 64, shrugged off questions about setting the mayoral record.
"You don't run for office just to be there and say I beat a record," said Daley, first elected in 1989. "You really want to accomplish things."
Daley's lesser-known challengers in the nonpartisan election — Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and William "Dock" Walls, an aide to the late Mayor Harold Washington — had hoped to deny Daley that milestone.
They tried to make an issue of corruption and the federal investigation that started with bribes paid to city officials for trucking work and expanded to City Hall hiring practices.
Daley has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but the investigation has snagged dozens of people, including his former patronage chief and a former city clerk.
The mayor has blamed the wrongdoing on a "few bad apples" and points to his efforts at retooling the city's hiring system and limiting fundraising.
Daley would have been looking at a much tougher re-election bid if two other formidable opponents — Democratic Reps. Luis Gutierrez and Jesse Jackson Jr. — had gotten into the race. But they both decided to keep their jobs in Washington after Democrats won control of Congress in the last election.
While Jackson decided not to run, his wife, Sandi Jackson, was a candidate for alderman in their South Side neighborhood. All 50 aldermanic seats in the Chicago City Council were up for re-election.
Among the candidates was a sitting alderman recently charged in a federal bribery case for allegedly taking a $5,000 payoff to help a bogus developer move forward on a building project. The alderman, Arenda Troutman, has maintained her innocence.
Two former aldermen once convicted of graft wanted their old jobs back — Percy Giles, who was busted in the federal government's Operation Silver Shovel investigation in the 1990s, and Wallace Davis Jr., who was convicted of taking bribes and extortion in a separate federal probe in the 1980s.