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Olympic decision could impact Daley's future

Wednesday, September 30, 2009
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What does it mean for Mayor Daley if Chicago wins the bid to host the Olympics? What will it mean if the Games go elsewhere?

For the past few days, we can almost feel the local political scene winding down, about to go on pause, waiting to hear what happens far away in Denmark. Elected officials appreciate that Richard M. Daley is the unquestioned power in the region, and whether he wins or loses in Copenhagen, could define the political future here.

All the experts ABC7 interviewed agreed, Mayor Richard M. Daley needs some positive news to reverse his plummeting approval rating that reportedly has sunk to the mid-30 percent range.

"There will be an immediate boost, I think, that will send him up because he's a winner and winners always look good," said Don Rose, political consultant.

"His whole mayoralship has been: I can produce, I can deliver what I say I can deliver," said Delmarie Cobb, political consultant.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who leaves for Denmark Wednesday night, says a winning bid in Copenhagen would be a political coup on the home front.

"I think it'll help me and I think it'll help the mayor, and I think it will show anybody in elected office if we show that teamwork is the way to succeed," said Gov. Quinn.

Win or lose, when Daley returns from Copenhagen, he will face a half-billion dollar deficit that is likely to mean more service cuts and an increase in city taxes and fees.

"Looking at that potential half a billion dollar deficit is what can bring him down once again," Rose said.

The mayor has promised thousand of jobs planning, building and hosting the 2016 Games, and expects billions in additional federal dollars. But, if Chicago loses the bid, Cobb says it would cloud Daley's political future.

"He's already vulnerable, and he's going to be more vulnerable if he doesn't bring back the Olympics, and I think some people will step up to the plate," Cobb said.

UIC's Dick Simpson says the 67-year-old mayor's 2011 decision will depend more on personal factors:

"He's my age. His wife has had cancer. There are lots of issues that come into play," said Simpson.

And there's another theory, that if Chicago wins the 2016 Games, it could be reason for Richard M. Daley to resign before his current term expires.

"Does he really want to run again or will he perhaps decide to take the job as czar of the Olympics, which could be his for the having," said Rose.

And that was the most intriguing possibility we heard all day: If Chicago wins the bid, What role will Mayor Daley take in putting on the games?

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