Why Chicago Is Sucking Up To Rahm - NBC Chicago
Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Why Chicago Is Sucking Up To Rahm



    That giant sucking sound you’ve been hearing all over Chicago? That’s been the sound of politicians and media types attaching themselves to Rahm Emanuel’s inevitable mayoral campaign.

    Last week, former Chicago inspector general David Hoffman and former Cook County Board member Forrest Claypool endorsed Emanuel. Hoffman and Claypool are leading figures in Chicago’s progressive community, and Emanuel is the most conservative candidate in the race. But both men lost elections last year -- Hoffman for U.S. Senate and Claypool for Cook County Assessor. If they want political futures, it will help to have access to Emanuel and his campaign fund.

    Even Sen. Dick Durbin, who has refused to make an endorsement, praised Emanuel last week. Durbin knows Emanuel will soon be the most powerful Democrat in Illinois.

    Emanuel also has the overwhelming support of the Chicago media. No widely distributed newspaper or magazine has endorsed Gery Chico, Miguel del Valle or Carol Moseley Braun. From a business standpoint, this makes sense. Those three candidates combined can’t afford as much advertising as Emanuel.

    N’DIGO, a publication aimed at upscale African-American women, began the campaign as a staunch defender of Moseley Braun. But now it’s offering this endorsement of Emanuel: “Of the six mayoral candidates, he has demonstrated a vision for the city that will continue to move us forward in a world class direction, and his leadership, business, and political acumen simply outshines the rest of the field by far,” the magazine wrote.

    Emanuel also has the endorsement of the Tribune, the Sun-Times, Crain’s and Gay Chicago. There’s an old saying in Chicago politics: “Don’t make no waves; don’t back no losers.” It’s the title of Milton L. Rakove’s book about the Daley machine.

    Emanuel has a reputation as a vindictive bully, so there’s no point in getting on his bad side. Especially if you want an interview with the new mayor. Emanuel hasn’t even waited until the election to start assembling an enemies list. Last fall, he refused to tell WTTW’s Carol Marin whether he favored removing Ald. Edward Burke as chairman of the Finance Committee.
    “I’m not going to talk about that right now, for the simple reason that I have to run for mayor,” Emanuel said at the time. “I have to get elected. Making decisions like that are not in my purview. He has done a service since 1969. He has been Finance Committee chair for 20 years.”

    Since then, Burke has endorsed Gery Chico. Emanuel and Chico are developing a hate-hate relationship in this campaign. As a result, Emanuel is measuring Burke’s head for a pole, to set an example for powerful politicians thinking of opposing Rahm.

    “Chairmanships will change,” Emanuel warned. “If Ed Burke has six police officers, that just can’t continue.”