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Bill Daley tops $1 million, pads lead in mayoral fundraising sweepstakes

Mayoral candidate Bill Daley wants to merge the Chicago Public Schools with the City Colleges of Chicago to save administrative costs and free up money to offer tuition-free college to all CPS students. | James Foster / Sun-Times

Bill Daley is padding his lead in the mayoral fundraising sweepstakes — and topping the $1 million benchmark — with help from two of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s most reliable campaign contributors.

On Tuesday, Daley reported receiving $75,000 from Lester, Patricia and Paula Crown and another $25,000 contribution from Richard Robb, an executive with Henry Crown & Co., who is married to Rebecca Crown.

The Crown family, a business, finance and philanthropic pillar of Chicago, contributed $415,300 to Emanuel’s mayoral campaigns.

Daley also bagged a $50,000 contribution from Chicago venture capital pioneer Bryan Cressey.

Cressey was an early partner in the private-equity firm GTCR that once included Gov. Bruce Rauner. The “C” stood for Cressey. The “R” stood for Rauner.

Cressey gave $276,200 to Emanuel’s mayoral campaigns.

The infusion of October contributions makes Daley, the son and brother of Chicago mayors, the first mayoral candidate to top $1 million. His total now stands at $1.035 million.

The next closest challenger will be determined when quarterly reports are due next week.

Second place is likely to go to either former Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, with $827,794 in contributions or fired Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who claims to have raised $830,000 to date with “commitments” that will soon take him “well past” $1 million.

Millionaire businessman Willie Wilson’s $100,000 contribution to himself lifted the caps on the mayor’s race before Emanuel dropped out. Wilson has raised more than $660,000, nearly all of it from himself.

The Crowns have long been a staple of Daley family fundraising.

In 2013, Crown family members together contributed $37,100 to Bill Daley for Illinois before Daley decided not to challenge then-incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

The Crown family also contributed more than $93,000 to the campaigns of Daley’s older brother, Richard M. Daley, Chicago’s longest-serving mayor.

Contacted Thursday, Bill Daley said campaign contributions are “one indicator of support” and he’s “very proud” to have it, both from people whom he has known for many years and those he has met recently. The Crown family falls into the familiar category.

“They’re a major philanthropic family in the city that has had enormous impact for a very, very long time,” he said.

“Putting aside the political involvement, [there is] the charitable and civic engagement. There are very few people who have given as much as they have to help this city be better. … It makes me proud of the fact that they have stood up to support me in the level that they have.”

Last month, Daley wrote a $500,000 check to himself. It was an apparent attempt to prove that his track record of flirting with various offices, then dropping out, will not be repeated in the race to replace Emanuel.

On Thursday, Daley bristled when asked whether he was in the race to stay.

“I’m not even gonna answer that stupid question,” Daley said. “I’m not insulting you. But, it is a stupid question.”


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