“Tommy Dart is one hot political property,” said Don Rose, a longtime political strategist. “He is clearly the main competition for Rahm Emanuel.”

Dart, who has yet to announce his candidacy—taking the same coy stance as Emanuel and 15 or so other possible contenders—has garnered glowing press in the last few years.

He reformed policies on foreclosure evictions, busted a prostitution ring on Craig’s list, cracked down on dog-fighting and won praise among black clergymen for allowing them easier access to inmates in the county jail.

“It’s very rare for a white politician,” said Pastor Larry Barnes of the Temple of the Living Word Church, “to have earned the kind of trust that Dart has earned in the black community.”