Richard M. Daley's capture of the Democratic nomination for mayor of Chicago revived memories last week, but it fails to ensure the reincarnation of his father's authoritarian rule at City Hall or the restoration of the old Democratic machine.
In fact, Daley still faces another hurdle before he can claim the office that Richard J. Daley occupied for 21 years. In a general election April 4, he must defeat a popular black alderman, Timothy C. Evans, who is running as an independent, as well as a longtime adversary, Edward R. Vrdolyak, who won the Republican nomination.Despite the prospect of a divided white vote, Daley is favored. After all, the winner of the Democratic nomination here has gone on to be elected mayor in every contest over the last 60 years.
It is an overwhelmingly Democratic city. The only Republicans on the 50-member City Council are two turncoats who were elected as Democrats and switched parties. But in the years since the elder Daley died in December 1976, Chicago politics has been rent by turmoil and racial conflict, and the young Daley knows that the pieces can never be put back the way they once were.
When the question was raised in an interview last week, Daley pursed his lips, shook his head quickly and said, "No way."
Chicago, he said, has changed drastically in the last 12 years. "It's totally different. We're on the way to being either rich or poor. The loss of the middle class frightens everybody." He indicated that he wants to share power, to build a black-white consensus that can govern Chicago peacefully.
He expects to be able to win back the support of several important older black politicians whose careers were nurtured by his father in exchange for their delivery of the votes in black wards. But Daley - who has already cultivated the city's brightest young Hispanic leaders - realizes he must also reach out to younger blacks in a way his father never did.
The Democratic nominee seems to be more interested in the process of governing than in the exercise of raw politics. One of his aides called him "an Irish Dukakis."
When he was asked which quality of his father he would like to emulate, Daley said, "His knowledge of government. He knew the budget process, the federal-state-local relationship. He knew how to hold people accountable in all departments. He knew how to get things done."
Daley acknowledged that the Chicago machine - perhaps the most powerful political organization in American history - can never be rebuilt.
"Political organizations in this country are gone. Everybody votes on their philosophy or for the individual candidate. My dad, before he died, knew it was coming - independent candidates, party fights. We're never going to get it back. People don't want it," Daley said.
The drama of one of the nation's greatest cities - intensified by the victory by a new Daley generation - is Shakespearean in its sweep.
But Rich Daley would be an unlikely character if it were not for his name. Now 46, he is beginning to resemble his father. He has a plain face, going plump with middle age. Daley is pleasant, but guards his personality in public and is often painfully inarticulate. His father, of course, was no great orator, either. "They have vilified me, they have crucified me. Yes, they have even criticized me," the old mayor once exclaimed.
But unlike his father, Rich Daley does not exude power, and he shows no taste for ruthlessness.
If elected, he promised that he planned no purges at City Hall or in the Democratic organization. "I've got too many problems with being the mayor of Chicago.
Education, he said, would be his highest priority, followed by housing, health, crime and economic-development issues.
William Singer, a leader of the "reform" movement that battled old Mayor Daley for years and unseated his delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 1972, hails young Daley's agenda. Singer still has a following among the "Lakefront liberals," and he is urging them to support Daley. "He's a very sensitive, decent human being who cares for these issues," said Singer, who rarely had anything good to say for the father.