Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

7th District Democrats Wait on Davis Decision in Illinois

Will he stay or will he go? That is the question these days on Chicago’s West Side as interested Democrats wait for Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) to decide which office he really is running for next year.

Davis said Monday that he is prepared to file for re-election to his Congressional seat if he decides to drop his bid for Cook County Board president before this fall’s deadline.

“I have enough signatures to turn in for the nominating process for re-election to Congress, should I choose to do so,” Davis said in a phone interview.

Davis announced in June that he would run for Cook County Board president and has since held a kickoff announcement and opened several campaign offices. But the seven-term Democrat has also been simultaneously gathering signatures for re-election to his 7th district seat.

Davis’ indecision has left Democratic candidates in the western Chicago district in limbo as they wait to see if Davis pulls the trigger on the Cook County Board race this fall.

“They know that if I’m a candidate for the Cook County Board, it’s ‘open sesame,’” Davis said. “And if I’m not a candidate for the Cook County Board, then perhaps they have to re-evaluate some of their thinking.”

Davis must turn his petition in to state election officials between Oct. 26 and Nov. 2 but would have until mid-November to withdraw either petition for County Board president or his Congressional seat. Davis said he was not sure yet if he would turn in both petitions at the end of October or just file for one office.

Davis has been thinking about moving on to another office for several cycles, even floating his name as a possible appointment for President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat last year. But Davis also gained a coveted spot on the House Ways and Means Committee earlier this year — a signal that many Illinois Democrats thought meant he would stay in the House.

And back in Chicago, Davis has encountered competition in the Cook County Board race. Davis, who served on the board before he came to Congress, is one of several black candidates in the open-seat race for Cook County Board president — a circumstance that could lead to the election of a nonblack candidate next year, much to the dismay of local black community leaders.

According to a couple of Democratic operatives familiar with the race, Davis thought he could clear the field if he ran, but that hasn’t happened.

“No one is really waiting to see what Danny does,” one Democratic operative said. “He’s not having a significant impact on other people’s decision-making process, whether it’s the county board race, or even in the 7th Congressional district.”

Among the candidates waiting on Davis is his former chief of staff, Richard Boykin. The Chicago attorney and lobbyist said he’s holding off circulating petitions until he knows for sure that Davis is running for county board instead of re-election.

“I would never do anything to undercut my former boss,” Boykin said. “The reality is that I think there is a chance that he will likely be back in Congress.”

After working for Davis for a decade, Boykin is also familiar with the Congressman’s dilemma.

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