Sheriff Dart was considered one of the most formidable candidates for the mayoral seat left open by current Mayor Richard M. Daley, who is stepping down after six terms. Unlike the remaining pool of challengers, Mr. Dart, who is white, has high approval ratings in the city’s black and Latino communities. He is also well liked for the job he did as sheriff.
He grabbed national headlines for his decision not to carry out evictions against tenants who were unaware their landlord had suffered a foreclosure on the property.
Despite his own overtures on running for the mayoral office in recent weeks, Dart said on Wednesday that he did not want to compromise his family obligations. “I couldn’t do both,” he said at a news conference.
His departure leaves Mr. Emanuel dominating a slim field of candidates for the office, which includes former Chicago school board chief Gery Chico and Chicago City Clerk Miguel Del Valle. Emanuel’s reported $1 million campaign fund and name recognition are both considered major advantages.
Even in these early weeks of petition gathering, Emanuel’s mayoral bid has been aided by a growing list of contenders who announced that, at the end of the day, they would not run: Democratic US Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr., Luis Gutierrez, and Mike Quigley; Chicago Alderman Manny Flores; and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer.
The deadline to file petitions for a mayoral candidacy is Nov. 22.
During the past month Emanuel has been actively gathering petitions and courting voters nearly every morning and late evening at L stops throughout the city. Meeting with reporters outside a senior citizens café in the city’s Belmont Cragin neighborhood Wednesday, he called Dart “a good man” and said the two had not talked before Dart’s decision.
“These are demanding jobs, not just the campaign part, but the responsibility that comes afterward. You have to make an honest assessment and take Tom Dart at his absolute word,” he said.
Emanuel declined to comment on what Dart’s departure would mean for his own candidacy.
“Obviously when someone of Tom Dart’s quality gets out [of the race], that has an impact,” he said. “But on the other hand, I’ll leave the interpretation to others.”
Mr. Chico released a statement Wednesday that wished Dart well and added that he “has always put public service ahead of political ambition.” Chico said he would “seek Sheriff Dart’s advice and counsel on keeping Chicago safe.”