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Bill Daley Sets Sights On Chicago Mayor’s Race

Former U.S. Commerce Secretary and White House chief of staff William Daley will announce he’s running for Chicago mayor — a job held for decades by his father and one of his brothers.

A spokesman for Daley said Friday he will enter the wide-open race to replace Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who announced last week that he won’t seek a third term in the February 2019 election.

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Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley

Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley

M. Spencer Green/AP, file

Updated Monday, Sept. 17

Former U.S. Commerce Secretary and White House chief of staff William Daley is running for Chicago mayor — a job held for decades by his father and one of his brothers.

Daley said he’s aiming to be mayor of Chicago because he and his family love the city.

“And … right now I think I can add something to the city, and improve the city and the life of the residents and the neighborhoods,” Daley told WBEZ.

The son of former Mayor Richard J. Daley and brother of ex-mayor Richard M. Daley has flirted with running for office before, but never tested his popularity at the polls.

William Daley said he was challenging then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in the 2014 election, only to quit the race months before the primary.

Daley acknowledged that his famous name could be a negative.

“I’m not going to change my name,” Daley said. “I’ve got to go the voters and prove to the people of Chicago that I can make a difference in the city and help them and help our neighborhoods and make this a stronger city, so I take nothing for granted. My name to some people will be a negative, to some people it may be a positive.”

In an interview with WBEZ, Bill Daley said his priorities will be public safety and affordability in every neighborhood.

“Safety is the number one issue in Chicago right now,” Daley said. “To give confidence to people that we can secure this city better than they feel right now it is. The police department is at the front line of that.”

Daley said the community and police have to come together for the good of the city and neighborhoods.

A Daley mayoral bid could be hamstrung by the poor state that his brother left the city’s finances in when his record 22-year tenure ended in 2011.

In April, William Daley defended his brother’s record in office after years of thinly veiled criticism from Emanuel.

William Daley, who turned 70 last month, is the seventh and youngest child in his South Side political family. He graduated from John Marshall Law School and has worked as a banker in addition to his stints as a top aide to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

From his roots in the local politics of his family’s 11th Ward power base, William Daley rose to national prominence. He’s perhaps best known as campaign chairman for Democrat Al Gore’s bid for president in 2000, which ended in defeat after a protracted recount.

Although William Daley never played a formal role in his brother’s administration, he was a key political adviser. And his name surfaced in the 2009 federal corruption trial of a high-ranking City Hall aide who was convicted in a wide-ranging patronage hiring scheme.

A witness for federal prosecutors said he met with William Daley early in Richard M. Daley’s administration to set up the crooked Hispanic Democratic Organization. The pro-Daley group aided Richard M. Daley and his allies at election time in exchange for lucrative jobs and promotions in city government.

Asked about the sworn testimony, William Daley told the Chicago Tribune at the time that he had no recollection of the meeting and was unaware of promises of city jobs to campaign workers for his brother. But William Daley added, “Even if it happened – and I’m not saying it did – things were different. There was nothing illegal about that stuff.”

His son William Daley Jr. lobbies the Emanuel administration for Goldman Sachs and previously worked for Morgan Stanley, according to disclosure documents filed with the city’s Ethics Board. During his time with Morgan Stanley, in 2015, the firm worked on a city bond deal, for an expected payout of $2.64 million.

WBEZ City Politics Reporter Becky Vevea contributed to this report.

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