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Mayor Daley's Poll Numbers Plummet, Local Politicians Mull Challenge

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Richard M. Daley has been mayor of Chicago for over 20 years. For much of that time, he's been a widely popular figure in the city.

But his numbers have reached a record low this summer, as Olympic failures, parking meter problems and mounting violence have taken a toll on the mayor's image. And as Daley shows signs of weakness, at least two local politicians have openly discussed making a run at Daley next year.

Thirty-seven percent of Chicago voters approve of the job Mayor Daley is doing, according to a new Chicago Tribune/WGN poll, while 47 percent disapprove. And when asked if they wanted to see Daley re-elected, only 31 percent of voters said they did. Fifty-three percent said they did not.

The mayor seemed unfazed by the numbers. From the Tribune:

"Everybody's worried about polls in the United States, and all politicians worry about polls," Daley said at an anti-violence rally on the South Side. "They should worry about their actions...You have to be passionate about your job. There's ups and downs."

But while Daley took the news in stride, others seemed to smell blood in the water.

James Houlihan, the Cook County Assessor who is retiring this year, has said that he is contemplating a run. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Houlihan, who has served as assessor for 14 years, is believed to have coveted the mayor's office for some time. He expressed his desire to run for mayor publicly for the first time Monday.

But, as the Tribune points out, a run by Houlihan could lead to an alliance between Mayor Daley and House Speaker Michael Madigan, a longtime Houlihan opponent. A union between two of the most powerful people in Illinois could be difficult to defeat.

32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack has also expressed interest in challenging Daley in the March 2011 Democratic primary for mayor, according to the Sun-Times. Waguespack cited corruption and cronyism as reasons for his run, saying , "People are fed up. They're tired of the old way. Their pocketbooks are tired of the corruption and waste. The bad economy has exposed the weakness of [Daley's] style of business."

Other names that have been mentioned as possible challengers for Daley include former Inspector General David Hoffman, who lost a hotly contested Senate primary to Alexi Giannoulias in February, and a handful of other aldermen including Sandi Jackson and Tom Tunney. And, of course, Rahm Emanuel, though he's said he won't run if Daley is in the race.

Still, no one -- not even Daley himself -- has officially announced his candidacy. While indications point to Daley running again, the race would be wide open if he were to retire.