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The Biggest Job Emanuel Will Ever Have

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The Biggest Job Emanuel Will Ever Have
The Biggest Job Emanuel Will Ever Have

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According to Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel is about to step into one of the biggest political jobs in America.

“There are five major chief-executive jobs in the United States,” Emanuel told GQ magazine. “The president, the governor of California, the governor of New York, the mayor of New York, and the mayor of Chicago. I hope I am not insulting anybody else, and if I am insulting a governor somewhere, I apologize.”

Maybe so, but mayor of Chicago is not a rung on the power ladder Emanuel was climbing when he was a congressman. Emanuel wanted to be the first Jewish speaker of the House. The plan was, he would serve a few years as White House Chief of Staff, then return to Congress. But his chosen placeholder, Ald. Patrick O’Connor, lost the Democratic primary to Rep. Mike Quigley, who has no intention of stepping aside for Rahm.

Mayor of Chicago is not a rung on any ladder. It’s a destination job, which is another way of saying it’s a dead end. The last Chicago mayor to move on to another office was Edward F. Dunne, who was elected governor of Illinois in 1912. Given Downstaters’ resentment of Chicago’s political dominance, it’s unlikely a modern mayor could become governor.

“There’s been a lot of talk amongst the chattering classes about Rahm Emanuel’s future, even though he hasn’t even been sworn in yet. Some have suggested that he might even run for governor, which I find highly unlikely,” Rich Miller wrote in Capitol Fax. “A Chicago mayor running statewide? More than tough.”

You can’t get from the mayor’s office to the presidency, either. Four Illinoisans have been nominated for the presidency. Two were senators -- Stephen Douglas and Barack Obama. One was a governor -- Adlai Stevenson. The other was a former congressman -- Abraham Lincoln.

Emanuel could run for the Senate, but he’d have a long wait. Dick Durbin is 66, and Mark Kirk is 51.

No wonder Emanuel wants us to believe mayor of Chicago is one of the biggest jobs in the country. It’s probably the biggest job he’ll ever hold.

For the latest updates and to keep track of the conversation, follow @NBCChicago and #RahmChicago on Twitter.

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

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