Chicago's Daley Gives Lessons to Democrats
CHICAGO — WHEN the Democratic National Convention comes to Chicago in 16 months, the party could glean some lessons from the expected reelection of Mayor Richard M. Daley. But those lessons may include some the party doesn't like.
In voting tomorrow, Chicago by most accounts will sweep Mr. Daley into a second four-year term. With the rise of Republican leaders in Los Angeles, New York, numerous state houses, and Congress, Mayor Daley offers Democrats a lesson in how to gain and retain power. Daley leads with 57 percent of the vote to 19 percent for independent challenger Roland Burris, according to a recent poll. Ray Wardingley, the Republican challenger in a city dominated for decades by Democrats, claims just 2 percent of the likely vote, the Chicago Tribune poll indicated.
Daley, the oldest son of legendary Mayor Richard J. Daley, has lived up to his family's political name by using some of the tactics that helped his father win six terms from 1955 until he died in office in 1976. But it is the ways Daley differs from his father that are most instructive to Democrats. For traditionally minded party stalwarts, the lessons he offers for adapting to sweeping economic and demographic changes are not all heartening.
Daley is coping with the strong Republican tide by swimming vigorously with it, political analysts say. ''Everything Daley does is Republican, but the party label hasn't caught up with his machine yet,'' says William Grimshaw, professor of political science at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Daley has most dramatically diverged from his father by snubbing public unions and privatizing some city services.
Although his father built up a city payroll of more than 40,000 employees, Daley boasts of laying off 1,600 city workers by privatizing a slew of services: window washing, removal of abandoned cars, airport parking garages, janitorial work, and others.
Daley also lists as his leading achievements the capping of city tax increases to less than 5 percent since he took office in 1989. He has also eliminated the head tax on small and medium-size businesses in an effort to create jobs and invigorate neighborhoods. Daley wears such loud Republican stripes that Speaker Newt Gingrich recently offered him a compliment that just a year ago that leading Democrats would have deemed a lethal kiss. Mr. Gingrich said the two think ''a lot alike on a lot of issues.''
DALEY has clearly emulated his father by hammering together a broad political base. While relying on the support of white ethnics, he has captured the Hispanic swing vote. Moreover, his backing among African-American voters rose to more than 25 percent in the Feb. 28 primary. Daley outmaneuvered his African-American opponent by gaining endorsements from leading blacks, including his rival's pastor.
Daley has had to muster the diverse support without the sizeable carrot and stick of patronage used by his father. Court rulings in 1972 and 1983 known as the Shakman Decrees banned or severely restricted hiring and firing for political reasons.
Instead of patronage, Daley relies on top-dollar campaign spending, political and bugetary favors, nitty-gritty management, and deft handling of the race issue. Indeed, both Daleys have successfully exploited and ''accomodated'' fears and hostility based on race, says Pierre DeVise, associate director of Institute for Metro Affairs at Roosevelt University in Chicago.
Daley plays both ends of the race question. He has championed initiatives to ensure fair involvement of minorities in city services, offices, and contracts. Meanwhile, he stifles criticism by his white party rivals by claiming that white disunity could open the way for another Harold Washington, the charismatic black who won mayoral elections in 1983 and 1987 by rallying a coalition of blacks, Hispanics, and liberal whites, Grimshaw says.
Moreover, like his father Daley goes right up to the doorstep of voters and caters to their needs: reliable garbage collection, street maintenance, snow removal, and efforts to promote jobs and growth. He thereby offers Democratic congressmen a lesson in nuts-and-bolts management and the value of actions over words, the analysts say. The mayor ''concentrates on solving problems: filing potholes, removing abandoned cars, fixing streetlights, and providing other basic city services,'' says Melvin Holli, a political scientist at the University of Illinois-Chicago.