We have been hearing rumors recently that one of the mayoral candidates would drop out, but it was not Jeff Koenig. His announcement yesterday that health concerns have led him to forgo the campaign this year came as a surprise. Koenig is a likeable guy and was a serious contender; he probably would have been able to spend enough money to make the runoff. I would not have voted for him, but I never doubted his sincerity nor his ability to make a valuable contribution to the public dialog about important issues during the campaign.
Speculation is rife about how Koenig's premature withdrawal from the campaign will affect the other candidates' chances and who his backers might now support. One thing that we don't have to guess about is how the other candidates responded to the news and what that says about them.
When contacted by a reporter for a comment, Alderman Lioneld Jordan said, "This is just an election. There are more important things than an election. I certainly wish Jeff all the best, and I hope he's okay." Pushed to speculate on how it would impact the campaign, he said, "I don't know that it affects my race much, because I'm running my race based on my experience and my voting record."
Steve Clark said it was too soon to predict what Koenig's exit will mean for his campaign but added, "I'm sorry to hear any candidate can't stay in the race. ...My thoughts and prayers are with Jeff."
Walt Eilers, the third remaining candidate, said, “My standing in the race won't change ...This will just mean that there’s just one less candidate for the people to choose from. I think it will simplify the race.” According to The Morning News, Eilers said he hopes the similarity between his business background and Koenig's will position him to pick up some of Koenig's supporters. Eilers is a dues paying member of the Chamber of Cowbirds, and Koenig has served on the Board for years.
"It will, of course, change the dynamics of the race," Eilers said in expanding on his political analysis. "I think this will cause another candidate to step forward and pick up Jeff's banner. I wouldn't even be surprised if the current mayor jumps back in the fray."
Jeff Koenig said when he announced that one of the reasons he sought the office was because the city "suffered from lack of leadership." Mayor Dan Coody, who once supported Eilers but has now flipped to back Clark, was not quoted in either local newspaper about his reaction to Koenig's announcement, nor did he have anything to say about his future political plans.