Richard M. Daley's Democratic primary victory over acting Mayor Eugene Sawyer carried him to the door of the City Hall office his father held for 21 years, but a new foe and an old nemesis want to bar his entry.
By defeating Sawyer on Tuesday, Daley advanced to the April 4 general election and a contest Democrats have won without fail since 1931 - including six straight terms captured by Richard J. Daley, the late, legendary boss of Chicago politics.The 46-year-old nominee faces third-party candidate Alderman Timothy Evans, previously Sawyer's chief black rival and now Jesse Jackson's choice. He also faces the Republican primary winner, a title claimed by Edward Vrdolyak, who bucked GOP leaders by launching a write-in candidacy a week ago.
Daley, Cook County state's attorney, rarely invoked his father's name during the primary, but he did in his victory statements and in TV interviews Wednesday morning.
"I think my father's looking down upon me, on a beautiful, warm day in Chicago . . . very proud of me, and most importantly, proud of the type of campaign that I ran in the last three months - reaching out to every community," Daley said.
He dismissed suggestions that racial factors could split the vote as it did in 1983, when he lost the nomination to the late Harold Washington, the city's first black mayor.
"I'm not going to be vying for any one vote," he said. "I'm going to be vying for votes of everybody throughout this city. This will be a good clean election."
Daley recalled advice he received from his father, who died in 1976, three months into his third decade in office: "You're going to have ups and downs, you're going to win, you're going to lose. Remember, (choosing politics) is your decision."
With 2,843 of 2,911 precincts reporting, or 98 percent, Daley had 481,370 votes, or 56 percent, to 367,919 votes, or 43 percent, for Sawyer. Three other candidates shared the remaining votes.
"This is not the end of Eugene Sawyer," said the 54-year-old black mayor. "I will continue to work . . . to heal, to build and to bring people together."
Daley rode overwhelming white support to win, capping a three-month campaign that was largely free of racial strife and, by Chicago standards, rancor.
But Vrdolyak, a former Democratic alderman and party chairman, could cut into that base if his write-in challenge is successful. Vrdolyak won more than 80 percent of the white vote in his unsuccessful 1987 third-party challenge against Washington.
With 96 percent of 2,911 precincts reporting, unofficial results gave Vrdolyak 10,711 votes, or 45 percent, to 10,234 votes, or 43 percent, to GOP endorsed candidate Herbert Sohn. Two others each had 5 percent.
Sohn refused to concede and County GOP Chairman Jim Dvorak said the race was too close to call. Because of the difficulty of counting write-in votes, the outcome of the Republican race might not be known before Thursday.
If Daley faces Vrdolyak and Evans, the battle would be reminiscent of the one Washington waged to become the city's first black mayor.