Don't Bet on a 'Mayor Rahm Emanuel'

With the stunning announcement by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley that he will not seek a seventh term in 2011, political talk immediately focused on White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as heir apparent to the first mayor of the Windy City to voluntarily step down since Ed Kelly in 1947.

Although Emanuel himself was not announcing a run, the former Democratic congressman from Illinois has long made little secret of his dream of becoming the first Jewish mayor of his home town. Betting is now strong on the Washington cocktail circuit that Emanuel will leave the White House after the November elections and move his family back to Chicago in time for the December filing deadline.

For all the “insider” talk here that Emanuel was a “slam dunk” to become mayor, the talk I heard from political sources in Chicago was quite different: namely, don’t bet on it.

“You know all about Rahm’s style and personality and you know he’s stepped on folks along the way,” said Tom Roeser, longtime Chicago columnist, educator, and radio ralk show host. “They are not going to forget all this if he runs again.”

Reportedly the list of powerful Democrats not enamored with the idea of a “Mayor Rahm Emanuel” are the family of Mayor Daley himself. As one Chicago pundit told HUMAN EVENTS, “Bill Daley [former secretary of commerce and Al Gore’s 2000 campaign manager], John Daley [Cook County commissioner], and Mike Daley [Chicago “superlawyer”] will never forgive Rahm for talking about becoming mayor before their brother decided not to run again. It is not good to be an enemy of theirs.”

No one for a minute believes Emanuel will clear the field of potential opponents, particularly those who are Irish Catholic Democrats. Cook County Asssessor Jim Houlihan, a close friend of the Daley family and former state legislator, is reportedly eyeing the race, as is Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., still swirling in the controversy of disgraced former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich attempting to “sell” Barack Obama’s former Senate seat, may nonetheless emerge as a mayoral contender if no other well-known African American enters the race.

All candidates regardless of party will compete on the same ballot next February 22. If no candidate receives 50% of the vote plus one, then a run-off between the top two vote-getters will be held April 5th. That’s a long way off—still another reason no one should at this time be booking a flight to an inaugural ball for “Mayor Emanuel.”