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04/20/2010

The Audacity of Rahm

  With one sentence spoken during an interview taped for public television, White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel has launched a campaign to become Chicago's next mayor! 

  When Richard M. Daley decides he doesn't want the job anymore, of course.

  Emmanuel, the former U.S. Congressman who represented the city's northside from 2003-2008 told interviewer Charlie Rose last night,  "I hope Mayor Daley seeks reelection. I will work and support him if he seeks reelection. But if Mayor Daley doesn't, one day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago."

  I think the Hebrew/Yiddish word for it is chutzpah.

  On paper Emmanuel, in the near term, looks like a decent bet.  His campaign would attract national media attention.  Let's assume he'd have the support of a President who presumably is more popular in Chicago than any other city in the nation.  And Rahm, like Daley, would initially corner most of the local political money.

  But aside from name recognition, the former congressman would have loads of work to do to convince voters citywide that he is the one to succeed the venerable Daley.   Remember, Chicago is a majority minority city.  African-Americans, Latinos and "others" make up 70% of Chicago's population.   

  Emmanuel was elected to Congress by a relatively small base of predominantly white voters on the northside.   He should not take for granted or underrate what Daley has accomplished over the past 20 years as a "minority" elected to the city's top job six times.

  And while Emmanuel's political acumen is legendary, keep in mind that Daley's leaving office for whatever reason will ignite a political "free-for-all" that Chicago has not seen since the death of Mayor Harold Washington.  Who knows how many other candidates might throw their hats into the ring.

  Finally, how about Emmanuel's timing.

  He spoke just hours after it was announced that First Lady Maggie Daley has suffered a setback in her battle against bone cancer.  

  If there is anything we've learned about Richard M. Daley during the past 20 years it is that the one thing he cares about more than the city of Chicago is his family.

  How Maggie is faring later this year will be a major factor in the Mayor's decision whether to seek re-election.

  

  

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