U.S. Congressman Danny Davis announced late Friday that he's exiting the 2011 race for Chicago mayor. Davis held a New Year's Eve press conference at his campaign headquarters, where he was joined by former rivals State Senator James Meeks and former U.S. Senator and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun.
"In unity there is strength, and in strength there is success," the 69 year old West Side Congressman said Friday as he threw his support to Moseley Braun.
Davis' move comes after mounting pressure from key leaders in the African American community during the last week, including Meeks and the Reverend Jesse Jackson, to narrow the field of African American challengers in the race. Just a week ago, Meeks announced his decision to exit the race, leaving Davis and Moseley Braun as the two most prominent African American candidates in the field.
However, Jackson and others insisted that unless the African American community united behind one major candidate there would be no way to defeat former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the 2011 election.
Davis' decision to drop out now leaves Mosely Braun as the leading African American candidate.
Davis had previously insisted that he was in the campaign for the duration. On Monday, he announced plans to reform Chicago's city government, and later in the week made news by calling on former President Bill Clinton not to campaign for rival candidate Rahm Emanuel. Campaiging on behalf of Emanuel could jeopardize Clinton's "long and fruitful relationship" with the African-American community, Davis said on Tuesday.
But late Wednesday evening, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. called Davis and Moseley Braun together for a meeting at his Rainbow PUSH headquarters where he urged one of the two to consider exiting the race. At the time, neither candidate had expressed plans to drop out.
In an interview with Chicago Magazine's Carol Felsenthal on Thursday, however, Jackson was optimistic that a change in the field might occur. "What's interesting about Danny and Carol is that they share the same values...They must make a big political decision," Jackson told Felsenthal.
This is not the first time Davis has flirted with running for local executive office, only to back away. Last year, he expressed interest in running for Cook County Board President and in 2006, he floated his name to replace the ailing incumbent John Stroger on the general election ballot, following Stroger's debilitating stroke. The Cook County Democratic Party chose Stroger's son Todd instead.
Other candidates wasted little time responding to Davis' decision Friday. "Regardless of who gets in or out of this race, I am the only candidate with a Chicago resume that is built for mayor," Gery Chico said in a statement late Friday.
"Congressman Davis' work on behalf of the people of Chicago goes back many years, and it certainly won't stop today" said challenger Rahm Emanuel in a statement. "His views will be needed in the dialogue about the city's future."
Davis was first elected to Congress in 1996. He previously served as a Cook County Commissioner and former Chicago alderman. In 1991, he made an unsuccessful bid for Mayor of Chicago, losing to incumbent Richard M. Daley.