Barely a week after earning re-election as Illinois comptroller, Susana Mendoza makes official on Wednesday what political insiders have expected for the better part of two months — and what Mendoza herself declared in a leaked campaign video almost two weeks ago.
“I’m Susana Mendoza and yes, I’m running for mayor,” she says in the official ad script released by her campaign. “We can shape Chicago’s future together. Let’s get to work.”
Touting herself as a “fiscal watchdog and fierce proponent of government transparency,” Mendoza’s planned campaign announcement highlights neighborhood safety and improvement to public schools as part of a “vision that invests in the future of Chicago and its neighborhoods.”
“It’s time to make this city work for everyone,” the 46-year-old candidate says in the video. “This election is about the future of Chicago and I believe in that future. Yes, we have challenges. And the challenges people face in the city are my challenges too.”
Mendoza’s campaign appeared to try to separate her from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, noting in an accompanying statement that Mendoza “fought Mayor Emanuel’s efforts to drastically raise city sticker prices” while serving as city clerk.
“Every Chicagoan deserves a mayor who every waking moment, every day asks herself one fundamental question: Did I do enough?” she says. “This election is about the next generation, not just the next four years.”
Apparently lost to the editing room floor was the five-second video clip that leaked Nov. 2, in which Mendoza announced her candidacy while asking Chicagoans “to join me on this journey together.”
That flap prompted Republican foe Darlene Senger to call on Mendoza to drop out of the comptroller’s race for “misleading” voters on her true intentions for office. Mendoza cruised to victory with 59.5 percent of the vote Nov. 6 to hold her statewide office.
With her name floated as a strong mayoral contender since Emanuel announced he wouldn’t seek a third term, Mendoza insisted she was focused only on re-election as she tiptoed around questions about whether she’d run for mayor. She only committed to four years as comptroller if Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner were re-elected.
Now, if Mendoza wins the mayor’s race, Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker would choose her acting replacement.
Her campaign has until Nov. 26 to secure 12,500 signatures on the ballot for the Feb. 26 mayoral election, but supporters seeking to “draft” her to run already have been passing petitions for weeks.
Mendoza immediately becomes a top contender in the crowded mayoral field, which still sits at well over a dozen candidates. The Little Village native is also the second Hispanic candidate in the race along with Gery Chico.
A proven vote-getter along the lakefront and among younger voters now dominating the political scene, Mendoza was a top ally of House Speaker Mike Madigan as a six-term state representative from the Southwest Side. She went on to serve as city clerk before first being elected comptroller in 2016.