Following weeks of speculation that intensified on Monday, Chance the Rapper announced at a press conference Tuesday morning that he would not be running for Mayor of Chicago. Instead he endorsed Amara Enyia, the director of the city’s Austin Chamber of Commerce. Wearing a purple version of his signature “3” hat, Chance poked fun at the attention he’s attracted since Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced would not be running for reelection by telling a crowd of reporters and fans gathered at a press conference at City Hall, “I’ve been longstanding in saying that Chicago needs new leadership and a new mayor. So I’m proud to announce that I will not be running for mayor.”
“I know as soon as I started talking about this it obviously caused a firestorm in the tweets. All the candidates started sweatin’,” the Chicago MC said to laughter. On Monday, he tweeted “Im thinkin maybe I should,” part of a line from his 2015 song “Somewhere in Paradise” in which he raps, “They screaming Chano for mayor, I’m thinking maybe I should.” It was a cryptic nod to a potential run, but eventually served to bring more attention to his endorsement of Enyia.
According to Chance, he felt his voice was better served by championing one of the many candidates currently vying for the seat of Mayor. “Very narcissistically, if I back you, you have a chance,” he said. “I want to work with somebody that’s about change and somebody that’s about our communities and somebody that’s about equity and somebody that’s about fairness.” The person, he said, “whose views aligned with me would obviously be candidate Amara Enyia.”
Born Chancellor Bennett, the rapper has long been vocal in his calling out the city for inequalities in its education system, unjust policing methods and lack of mental health services for the disenfranchised. In 2017, he donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools; this month he announced he’d be donating that same amount to improve mental health services in the city. “Obviously I love this city and I love it enough to call it out on its shortcomings,” he said Monday.
Before introducing Enyia, Chance said several other candidates in the city’s mayoral race had petitioned him for his endorsement. “It was a lot of different candidates that expressed their worries about me not endorsing them because they had a higher percentage chance of winning or they felt like they were higher in the polls or had more recognition with their name,” he explained.
Enyia, who is a community activist, organizer and lawyer, got her start working in city hall before serving as Executive Director of a non-profit organization on the city’s West Side while simultaneously working in the manufacturing sector. She said Chance’s words were “not your typical flash-in-the-pan endorsement. Today represents a commitment,” she said. “The commitment from Chance and I and the hundreds of people we’ve organized with, advocated with and worked alongside. Today is the beginning of Chicago’s next step.”
Chance is endorsing a different candidate than his father, Ken Williams-Bennett, who previously worked for Barack Obama and Emanuel. Last month, the elder Bennett announced he was endorsing Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle for Mayor. Chance said he “still rocked” with his dad, despite their differing views on this race.
Chance previously addressed the Chicago mayoral race when he recently appeared on Joe Budden’s podcast. “It’s like a wide-open race now. I think 15 or 16 candidates?”
“You could look at it on some defeatist shit, like ‘If I do this shit they’re going to fuck it up anyway.’ But if you don’t do it, it’s fucked up anyway, so why not? I think there’s an easy way to look at it like a blanket thing: ‘Chance does good things, in totality.’ But if you look at the specific things I’m working on, and look at it critically, it’s usually something that has something to do with equity, to make sure that everyone gets what they deserve — not necessarily equality, because if there’s people that are set back then equal shares don’t make them equal. Or it has something to do with women’s rights, or black women’s rights, period. Education. It’s a lot in the same area. Homelessness. You could call it all economics.”