Winners and Losers of 2011 - NBC Chicago
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Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Winners and Losers of 2011




    Rahm Emanuel: Raised $14.5 million for his campaign for mayor at awesome Hollywood parties, from the likes of Steven Spielberg and Steve Jobs. That meant he could just buy TV ads and flattering GQ profiles instead of campaigning at community forums on grim topics such as poverty and public housing, where his net worth likely would have exceeded the entire audience’s, plus the assessed valuation of the building.

    Jesse Jackson Jr.: He got caught cheating on his wife with a blonde waitress and allegedly tried to make moves for a Senate seat from former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, yet he’s still married and a congressman. This is Charlie Sheen’s definition of winning.

    John Fritchey, Will Burns, and Harry Osterman: The former state representatives were all sworn in to local offices this year. Fritchey is on the county board. Burns and Osterman are on the city council. That means they no longer have to endure the featureless scenery of Interstate 55, and now their constituents have heard of them.

    Ameya Pawar: The City Council’s first Asian-American alderman undertook an impossible dream campaign against 47th Ward Ald. Gene Schulter. When Schulter stepped aside at the last minute, in favor of protégé Tom O’Donnell, voter outrage, combined with Pawar’s year of door knocking, produced a victory that shocked even the victor.

    Karen Lewis: Had you ever heard of the Chicago Teachers’ Union president before this year? Neither had I. By fighting Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attempt to impose a longer school day without giving teachers a significant raise, Lewis became the only public figure in Chicago willing to stand up to the new mayor.

    Tammy Duckworth: Duckworth barely lost a race for Congress in 2006, running in a Republican district she didn’t live in. This time, House Speaker Michael Madigan drew a suburban district just for her -- and, she’ll get to run against Joe Walsh.

    Roger Keats: The former North Shore state senator lost badly to Toni Preckwinkle in his race for Cook County Board President, failing to carry his own township. He dealt with his defeat by moving to Texas this March, leaving behind a bitter letter in which he said he was “sick of subsidizing crooks.”

    Bernard Stone: Lost the City Council seat he had held for 38 years to Debra Silverstein, the wife of state Sen. Ira Silverstein, who took Stone’s committeeman’s seat in 2008. At least Stone went out with a great quote. Once the results were in, he declared: “Their bedroom is now the throne room.”

    Rahm Emanuel: Kicked out of the White House because nobody could stand his abrasive personality anymore, Emanuel lost his spot on the Washington power ladder. He’ll never be the first Jewish speaker of the House or the first Jewish president now. At least President Obama gave him a send-off he can use in an ad. Also, Pat Quinn wouldn’t give him a casino.

    Adam Kinzinger, Bobby Schilling, Joe Walsh and Bob Dold:
    Most of Illinois’s freshman Republicans had their districts drawn out from under them in House Speaker Michael Madigan’s partisan congressional remap. They’ll either have to primary fellow Republicans, or run in districts designed for Democrats.

    Carol Moseley Braun:
    Named the black community’s “consensus” candidate after Rep. Danny Davis and state Sen. James Meeks realized they couldn’t beat Rahm Emanuel. Completed her political decline by accusing Patricia Watkins of being “strung out on crack” and repeatedly yelling “tampon” at Emanuel during a Tribune editorial board meeting. After winning one precinct and getting only 9 percent of the vote, the “recovering politician” has finally recovered.