Rahm says he won’t play a role in narrowing crowded field to replace Jesse Jackson Jr.

SHARE Rahm says he won’t play a role in narrowing crowded field to replace Jesse Jackson Jr.
SHARE Rahm says he won’t play a role in narrowing crowded field to replace Jesse Jackson Jr.

Don’t look for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help narrow the crowded field of candidates angling to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress.

The mayor says he’s got better things to do than play politics.

“I’m focused on the major priorities I’ve said out for my administration, which is to build the economy of the city of Chicago, so people who are looking for work can find work,” the mayor said.

“The people of the 2nd district will pick a candidate. I’m not gonna focus on that. I’m not gonna make that a priority. They’ll make that choice.”

Reiterating the statement he issued after Jackson resigned last week, the mayor said, “I commend Congressman Jackson for his public service. He has obviously other issues to work on now. Now, we have to look to the future and that future is for the voters….on the South Side of Chicago and the south suburbs to pick a candidate to represent them. And whoever they pick I will work with to make sure we continue to get the resources back to the city of Chicago to continue to grow our economy and produce the jobs we need.”

A persistent radio reporter pressed the mayor about the abundance of candidates and asked whether the mayor believes there should be a limit.

“You really–you can’t be serious,” he said. “The voters will… have a lot of choices and that’s for them to decide. They had choices when I first ran [for Congress]. They had choices when I retired to become President Obama’s chief-of-staff. And now that Congressman Jackson has retired, the people of the 2nd District …will have choices. And those choices are for them to make. I will work with whoever is elected to make sure that Chicago wins in that election. That’s what I care about.”

When Emanuel gave up his seat in Congress to become White House chief-of-staff, he called now-convicted and imprisoned former Il. Gov. Rod Blagovevich and asked the then-governor to appoint a seat warmer to take Emanuel’s place.

Four days after the 2008 presidential election, Emanuel suggested a plan “just “between you and I” to appoint then-Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool as Emanuel’s temporary successor “in my interest of, uh, you know, having somebody there you know that doesn’t want to make it a lifetime commitment.”

In the conversation, captured by a federal wiretap, Emanuel said Claypool only wants to serve “for like one term or two, max. And then, he wants to go to the cabinet.”

The call ended with Emanuel telling Blagojevich, “I will not forget this. I appreciate it. That’s all I am going to say. I don’t want to go – you and I shouldn’t go farther.”

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