By Hal Dardick
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spent the last four years criticizing the financial shape predecessor Richard M. Daley left Chicago in, though rarely mentioning him by name.
On Monday, Daley endorsed Emanuel for a second term.
"(Rahm) is working hard in a job that I know is very difficult. I believe he deserves another four years to continue to strengthen this city we all love," Daley said in a statement released by Jacquelyn Heard, his former City Hall spokeswoman who's now at Katten Muchin Rosenman, the same law firm where Daley is of counsel.
The two politicians had lunch last week, and the endorsement was announced Monday afternoon through Daley, not the Emanuel re-election campaign. Crain's Chicago Business first reported the lunch had taken place at Piccolo Sogno, an Italian restaurant near Halsted Street and Grand Avenue.
The Emanuel campaign released a statement Monday about the Daley backing. "Mayor Emanuel is grateful for Mayor Daley's endorsement," campaign spokesman Steve Mayberry said. "Mayor Daley lives and breathes Chicago.
Rahm has long considered him a mentor and friend and is honored to have his support."
Mayberry declined to answer a question on whether Daley's backing will help or hurt Emanuel as he tries to secure a 50 percent-plus-one majority Feb. 24 and avoid a politically difficult runoff election April 7.
Daley, who served a record 22 years as Chicago mayor, had become increasingly unpopular as he neared the end of his tenure. A July 2010 Chicago Tribune poll showed just 31 percent wanted Daley re-elected, with 53 percent saying they wanted someone else. A few months later, Daley surprised political Chicago by announcing he would not run again.
Emanuel handily won the February 2011 election and succeeded Daley. Since then, Emanuel has pointed to decisions made under Daley that led to massive budget shortfalls and pension funding problems at City Hall and Chicago Public Schools.
Last August, the Tribune asked voters who was more responsible for the city's current financial problems. Fifty-four percent blamed Daley and 21 percent blamed Emanuel.
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