WASHINGTON — Former Obama White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett — and earlier in her career, a City Hall top official in three administrations — told the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday she will not be jumping in the race for mayor but she will be making an endorsement, setting her up as a potentially influential player.
Even with Jarrett sidelining herself, the field has grown daily since Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s surprise announcement on Tuesday that he will not seek another term.
“I will endorse and actively support a candidate for mayor with a proven track record of bold and effective leadership who I believe is prepared to unify and expand opportunity for all in the greatest city in the world at this critical time,” she told the Sun-Times in a statement.
Jarrett’s endorsement could help narrow the crowded field and give the contender a much better chance of either winning the February primary outright or coming in number two, forcing a runoff next April.
That’s because Jarrett figures in a series of interrelated networks of connected Chicagoans who helped launch the political career of former President Barack Obama: donors, business honchos, labor leaders, influential females and African Americans.
Jarrett told the Sun-Times in a statement, “I’m proud to call Chicago my home – I grew up in the city and raised my daughter here, served in regional government under three mayors and have seen firsthand the power of civic engagement.”
“I’ve been deeply humbled and honored to see my name appear as a potential candidate for mayor of our incredible city, but I am not going to run.
“I will continue to devote my public service to advancing gender and racial equity, protecting civil rights, reforming our criminal justice system, encouraging voter registration and voting and furthering the critical mission of the Obama Foundation to inspire and prepare the next generation to lead.
“I will endorse and actively support a candidate for mayor with a proven track record of bold and effective leadership who I believe is prepared to unify and expand opportunity for all in the greatest city in the world at this critical time. In the meantime, I will work to serve our city outside of public office, and I hope all Chicagoans will join me in the most important role of all: Citizen.”
Meanwhile on Friday, Secretary of State Jesse White, Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) and City Clerk Anna Valencia –– who many speculated might throw their hats in the ring for the mayor’s race –– indicated they were not interested.
A spokesman for White said the veteran politician would not want to be mayor and although Burnett wouldn’t rule out vying for the city’s top political job in a few years, for now, he said, “There’s a lot more I need to do in my ward and I love my job.”
Valencia on Friday tweeted that she is “proud to say that I’m running for City Clerk.”
“I want to stay focused on the important work that’s left to be done in our office,” she said in the tweet.
Contributing: Rachel Hinton and Mitchell Armentrout
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