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Axelrod’s prediction in mayor’s race? His lips — and envelope — are sealed

David Axelrod (left) and Rahm Emanuel have been friends for decades and worked together in the White House for President Barack Obama. Axelrod is now director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago. | Alex Brandon/AP

The envelope, please!

Let’s play . . . who?

David Axelrod, the stellar political strategist with 150 national campaigns under his belt, is sitting out this mayoral campaign.

“Sneed, I’m watching this one as an observer this time,” said Axelrod, who is this/close to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“But I think this mayoral race is the least predictable mayoral race in the history of Chicago,” he said. “Certainly in my memory.”

Axelrod, who worked at the Obama White House when mayoral candidate Bill Daley was the president’s chief of staff, is now a CNN staple and head of a political think tank at the University of Chicago.

“I don’t want to be put in a position of handicapping candidates, especially at this juncture,” said Axelrod, who worked with this columnist years ago at the Chicago Tribune.

“We’ll have to wait and see. But I’ll tell you what I’ll do.

“I’ll give you two names . . . predictions . . . in a sealed envelope the day before or after the primary and we’ll see how close I came.”

“So here’s the reason I believe this mayoral race is the least predictable mayoral race in the history of Chicago.

“It’s comprised of a bunch of potentially strong candidates; no one is dominant yet. Won’t know the odds in a runoff until we know who it is.

“And we haven’t heard from several people talking about getting into the race. It’s an interesting scenario.

“And I don’t miss being involved in it.

OPINION

“Primary elections are about base, whether you have an identifiable base to rely on. Several of the candidates and potential candidates have a base they can rely on, which makes it a crapshoot as to who survives the primary.

“But I enjoy watching this one as an observer and a citizen.

“So I’ll give you two names in an envelope.

“But you’ll have to wait and see!”

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The church scandal . . .

She’s out!

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke just put an eraser at the end of her pen.

• Translation: Sneed has learned Burke, once interim head of a prestigious lay group chosen by the U.S. Conference of Bishops to study the clerical sex abuse scandal in 2002, just resigned from an internationally powerful Roman Catholic lay organization, the Knights of Malta.

In a letter to Peter J. Kelly, president of the Order of Malta in America, Burke hit back on the group’s decision to “refrain” from taking part in the recent debate and debacle over “the crimes of abuse in our church.”

“I feel that I cannot remain silent and I no longer wish to be a part of a Catholic organization that is unwilling to take a stand on these issues,” wrote Burke.

Kelly stated in a letter to the group’s members: “Is it not the mission of the Order of Malta to participate in the debate concerning the current crisis. Therefore, official participation of members in the public debate regarding the aforementioned issues — beyond condemning abuse in general — is not helpful and could interfere with our work.”

Numbering 13,500 members nationwide, the Knights and Dames of this ancient lay community are expected to tend to the sick, protect the faith and serve the poor through humanitarian projects in almost 120 countries.

“I will continue to speak out about the need to investigate the underlying causes and conduct by the hierarchy in our church that permitted these crimes to continue,” added Burke, who is awaiting word from the U.S. Bishops Conference via Pope Francis on reinstating the 2002 lay board she chaired to probe the hierarchical component of the church scandal.

“It’s unbelievable,” added Burke, “that New York City’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan just picked a special attorney to investigate child abuse in his archdiocese! It’s nonsense!

“Why would anybody trust this when she (the special attorney general) is working FOR the archdiocese?”

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The Daley file . . .

Ah, brotherly love.

Is there some brotherly friction going on among the Daley boys?

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley, new mayoral hopeful Bill Daley and Cook County Board Commissioner John Daley.

“Nope,” said John.

“We are on the same bandwagon . . . getting Bill elected mayor,” he said.

However, Sneed is told there was some friction not too long ago when Richie requested several of his die-hard loyalists be dispatched to help mayoral contender Paul Vallas, who was once Daley’s mayoral fiscal adviser.

Sneed is told John blew a gasket when told of Richie’s request.

“I told them I was a supporter of Mayor Rahm Emanuel,” John told Sneed.

“That was then,” he said. “Now that Mayor Emanuel has dropped out of the race, I am committed to Bill becoming our next mayor.”

Sneedlings . . .

Today’s birthdays: Will Smith, 50; Scottie Pippen, 53; Michael Douglas, 74, and an extra birthday shoutout to Marc MacCormack, ageless and priceless.