Jesse Jackson was reported by two newspapers Saturday to be considering a run for mayor of Washington, D.C., next year, but the civil rights leader later denied he was a candidate.
"I am not planning to run for mayor," Jackson told reporters Saturday in Chicago at the headquarters of Operation PUSH, the civil rights group he founded."There is heightened interest . . . but I have made no plans and I have no such commitment."
Earlier, both The New York Times and The Washington Post reported Saturday that the political troubles of Washington Mayor Marion Barry and the prospect he may be forced to resign have prompted Jackson to consider running for Barry's job next year.
When asked by the Times if he is considering running for mayor, Jackson responded with a simple "No comment." However, the Times said that numerous friends and political associates of Jackson, who spoke on the condition they would not be identified, said Jackson is seriously thinking about running.
The Washington Post also reported that Jackson is considering entering the mayoral race. Jackson told the Post, "I have not yet made a determination to run here."
The unidentified sources told the Times Jackson is quiet on the subject because he has a longstanding friendship with Barry, whose current third term in office is being rocked by a scandal caused by his relationship with a reputed drug dealer.
Jackson, the defeated contender for the 1988 Democratic nomination for president, told the Times he would "never run against Marion Barry."
However, he added that "if he were not running, that's a different set of circumstances," referring to the possibility that Barry could be forced out of office by the deepening drug scandal.