Key leaders of Chicago's black political establishment have agreed to back a single candidate, Alderman Danny Davis (D), in the Feb. 26 primary for mayor of Chicago. Davis emerged as the choice after a four-hour, closed-door meeting Monday night under the chairmanship of Rep. Gus Savage (D-Ill.).
Several other possible candidates appeared at the meeting, but Chicago newspapers reported the choice came down to Davis or former acting mayor Eugene Sawyer (D), who was elected by the City Council after the death of Mayor Harold Washington (D) but lost in the Democratic primary last year to Mayor Richard M. Daley (D). Davis won by a reported 66 to 60 vote.
He becomes the second announced candidate for the primary, joining former mayor Jane Byrne (D). Daley has not formally announced but is gearing a campaign and is the early favorite.
Davis has run twice without success in primary challenges to Rep. Cardiss Collins (D) and, despite the endorsement process, faces a significant challenge in mobilizing unified black support against his two white opponents. Daley will have a big financial advantage over both rivals and has courted black support aggressively since winning the office 18 months ago.
The all-black Harold Washington Party is expected to field its own candidate against Daley in the April general election. But black leaders say their only realistic chance of beating Daley lies in the Democratic primary, and even that is a long shot unless Byrne can draw off unexpectedly large numbers of white votes.