PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a late arrival Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention, but many of those regarded as possible successors have been on the scene all week.
Few are overtly signaling their interest in the 2019 race, even among each other.
But the convention is a great place to network with activists, feel out the competition and more.
“It would make sense for them to be here, to schmooze, to shake hands, get to meet national players in the party and perhaps get a business card or two that will later be handy if they do run,” said Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), a Bernie Sanders delegate. “I think it would behoove anyone that wants to run for mayor to probably be here.”
I count at least six Illinois delegates who have been talked about as mayoral hopefuls, all such discussions stemming from the belief Emanuel is finished after a rocky start to his second term. I wouldn’t count him out just yet, but the road ahead looks tough.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has been a prominent off-stage presence all week at the Illinois delegation breakfasts. She also caused a stir by sitting with former President Bill Clinton in the convention hall on Monday night.
Some swear Preckwinkle has already decided to run for mayor — and an equal number say her only interest is seeking re-election in 2018.
If Preckwinkle doesn’t run, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer is among those who would like to be in the discussion.
“Being mayor of Chicago is an incredible opportunity, and as someone who is raising her kids here, I have a huge stake in the future,” Gainer told me. “So 2019 is a long ways off, but it’s something I’m thinking about.”
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Larry Rogers Jr., commissioner at the Cook County Board of Review, said he’s had a “number of people approach me and talk to me about [running for mayor].”
Others say Rogers has been doing some talking of his own.
Likewise, ousted Blaine School principal and Emanuel critic Troy LaRaviere, said people are asking him to make the race.
“Everyday folks and people who have run campaigns have approached me about it, and I’ve had conversations with them,” he said.
As to whether he’s interested: “If you’re interested in impacting the city, then you have to be interested in any opportunity you have that could impact your ability to do that.”
Other discussed mayoral hopefuls here include Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who lost to Emanuel in 2015 and city Treasurer Kurt Summers.
Among the missing: Sheriff Tom Dart, Ald. Brendan Reilly and Park District President Jesse Ruiz.
They may already have collected enough business cards.