Ward Room
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The Perambulations of Rahm Emanuel

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The Perambulations of Rahm Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel wants to be mayor of Chicago -- an interesting career choice, since it will mean actually living and working in the city, something Emanuel has done for less than half his adult life.

During Emanuel’s first run for Congress, in 2002, his opponent in the Democratic primary, Nancy Kaszak, tried to portray him as a rich D.C. carpetbagger who had only returned to Chicago to amass money and power. That attack didn’t work, but if/when Emanuel runs for mayor, don’t be surprised to hear it again.

Is the criticism fair? Well, let’s take a look at the timeline of Emanuel’s life and work in (and out of) Chicago.

1959 - c. 1968: Emanuel is born in Chicago, and lives the first 10 years of his life in Uptown, attending Anshe Emet Day School.

1968-1977: The Emanuel family moves to Wilmette, where Rahm graduates from New Trier West High School.

1977-1981: Emanuel attends Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y.

1981-1991: Returning to Chicago, Emanuel lives in Lake View and works as an organizer for Illinois Public Action Council. He also earns a master’s degree in speech and communication from Northwestern University in Evanston. Through his work with the council, Emanuel becomes involved in the political campaigns of Rep. Lane Evans and Sen. Paul Simon. He is the chief fundraiser for Richard M. Daley during his first run for mayor in 1989.

1991-1998: Emanuel moves to Little Rock, Ark., to work on Gov. Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign. After Clinton wins, Emanuel goes to Washington, D.C., to work as chief strategist in the White House.

1998-2002: Emanuel buys a house in Ravenswood and goes to work for the New York-based investment firm Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein. In two-and-a-half years, he somehow earns $18 million, which, he later tells the Chicago Reader, gives him “the economic security to do what I want with my life.” That turns out to be going back to Washington. In 2002, Emanuel is elected to Congress.

2003-2010: Emanuel serves three terms as a congressman for the Fifth District of Illinois, then is named White House Chief of Staff by President Barack Obama. Rents out his house on Hermitage Avenue.

2010-???: Emanuel plots a run for mayor. If he wins, he’ll have to spend four consecutive years in Chicago. 

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