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The Daley News

Don Rose 26 April 2010 7 Comments

PARIS–I’ve spent the past couple of weeks puttering around Paris taking care of some unpleasant but important business, all the while getting calls and e-mail queries from all kinds of media—mainstream to miniblogs.

What’s happened here during my stay? Well, Greece is going broke and Portugal and others are teetering on the edge. An unpronounceable volcano in Iceland belched enough ash into the air to bring world airline traffic to a dead halt.

The right-wing party of French President Nicholas Sarkozy lost virtually everywhere in the country during the recent mid-term elections, threatening his own re-election prospects in 2012. Meanwhile, in Great Britain, the left-wing Labour Party appears to be on the verge of its first defeat in nearly two decades—with angry voters possibly electing enough third-party Liberal Democrats (that’s their official name) to possibly force a coalition government of some kind.

So on which of these issues do the media seek to pick my brain—or what’s left of it?

The fact that White House aide and former Congressman Rahm Emanuel told interviewer Charlie Rose (no relation) that, since he will never become speaker of the U.S. House, one day he wants to be mayor of Chicago. Imagine that!

Emanuel made it clear he would not challenge Daley in a primary, but would wait until Richard M. retired. Smart boy, Emanuel.

This, of course, starts all the speculation about whether Rahmbo has some keen insight into the incumbent’s plans—will retirement be imminent? If not, why bring it up on a widely followed national TV show?

Candidly, I have absolutely no serious intelligence about the mayor’s plans—and I doubt that Emanuel has much more than I do. They are friends and associates, but not intimates of the inner circle. For genuine insights you would have to go to folk such as brother Bill Daley, Jeremiah Joyce or Tim Degnan—the political brotherhood—and none would tell if you waterboarded him for a week.

All we outsiders can do is speculate, and mine is that Rich Daley, who is under fire on a dozen issues, with his poll ratings down somewhere in the thirties, is tough enough to fight it out at least one more time. He is the last guy on earth to let it look as if he was being forced out—though his temper is shorter and he appears more irritable every day.

The long-rumored federal indictment does not look like it’s going to happen, so that end is foreclosed.

The only open question, the one thing that could make him change his mind, is—let me put this delicately—his wife’s health. She is thus far a cancer survivor but has had several problems more recently, none of which need be explored in detail here. If she takes any kind of negative turn, it could persuade Daley that Maggie needs his attention more than the rest of Chicago.

But in the unlikely case that he does not run again, or the more likely case that he serves one more term, it is not going to be a snap for Mr. Emanuel.

Many others are forming a queue, led by the guy I consider the strongest candidate, Sheriff Tom Dart who has an enviable series of political successes that place him high on the charts. He manages to get along with the older machine guys as well as many who consider themselves reformers.

There is also Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who coveted the job for a long time, but who remains under some minor ethical investigations. I also wouldn’t be surprised if State Sen. James Meeks took a whack at running, though his conservatism on questions such as abortion and gay rights would limit him to his ethnic base—no coalition-builder here.

Emanuel becomes formidable only if President Obama works his tail off for Emanuel, which would deliver a lot of African Americans. But presidents are generally loath to get too involved in primaries.

I admit to some prejudice against Emanuel. When he was my congressman he never found the time of day to meet with progressives on issues such as the Iraq war, and no mayor should be so disdainful of a constituency.

There’s much more to be said here, and situations change overnight, but if I had to lay down an early bet it would be on Tom Dart—the hottest political property in Illinois after Lisa Madigan.


Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer


  • John Powers said:


    Rev-Sen Meeks has brought together a truly remarkable coalition from the Left Right and everywhere in-between.

    Wriring him off for his conservatism seems rather short sighted, as he is taking the mainstream views on social issues, and the truly progressive (not Left wing) view on education.

    Meeks’ ethnic base is getting pretty broad if you ask me.


  • Caroline0ne said:

    It seems to me the real question isn’t about Daley; but about Emanuel’s strategy. Could he be reinforcing his status as a Chicagoan, so that he can jump into the Senate race if/when AG withdraws??

  • Paul McGrath said:


    Inasmuch as Rahm has been discussing this publicly for months, we have to take it seriously. And I imagine that’s Richie’s take. Rahm is positioning himself. He’s left the door wide open for Richie to say, like everybody else, that he’s not running in order to spend more time with his family. Honorable. If so, Rahm’s waiting outside the door. If not, we’ll see. The question is, what’s the relationship between Richie and Barry? Is Barry getting calls from City Hall, “What is this guy talking about?” In turn, is Barry saying to Rahm, “You trying to foul me up with the mayor?” One must presume that what Rahm is saying is OK with Barry. Therefore we must take this very, very seriously.

  • Paul McGrath said:

    So Richie’s sitting there with Rahm knocking on one door and Pat Fitzgerald knocking on the other.

  • Paul McGrath said:

    Need we point out that both are employees of the President of the United States?

  • Dan Kelley said:

    I have to agree with Don Rose. Having Rahm Emanuel formerly represent my district in Congress left me somewhat underwhelmed.

    Once he secured his election to Congress, Emanuel preferred the company of politicians to his constituents. The Fifth District is rather large, but Rahm seemed content to represent gentrified precincts in Lincoln Square, North Center and Old Irving Park. Apart from a few Congressionally franked mailers, Emanuel was seldom heard from elsewhere.

    Let it not be forgotten that one of the politicians that Rahm worked closely with Rod Blagojevich. Together they promoted a goofy plan to purchase prescription drugs from Canada. The plan, which served as prelude to the farce that is Obamacare, crashed like a lead balloon when the Canadian government strenuously objected to subsidizing Illinoisans with pharmaceutical needs.

  • Darrell Mitchell said:

    James Meeks is not a resident of the city of chicago.
    He resides in a million-dollar home in South Holland, IL.

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