Welcome to Ward Room

Welcome to NBCChicago's political blog, Ward Room.

At its oily, pistoning machine core, Chicago's levers are pulled by political personalities -- hardscrabble aldermen grasping for favors and influence; crisp-collared, would-be senators criss-crossing the state and the airwaves; an accidental statesman cavorting around Springfield; and, hunkered in his windowless Woodshed on five, a grim-lipped authoritarian making it all run as smoothly as possible.

Chicago doesn't lack for characters. We'll cover them here.

But not all at once. Ward Room's conceit is simple, but unique -- we've chosen nine politicians whom we believe are the strongest influencers, or show the most promise, and we'll cover them exclusively. You can see them listed on the right under "Who We're Covering". Every post will be pegged to one of these politicians.

For now, this list is static, but we intend for it to change as major events dictate. If Blagojevich is convicted, for example, and heads to the pokey and out of sight, we'll drop him. Conversely, if Bill Brady makes it a close race for the statehouse, we'll begin covering him more closely.

As for who's reporting and analyzing all this, please welcome Edward McClelland. Edward's a Chicago-based reporter who's covered local politics for the Chicago Reader, The New York Times, Slate.com, and several other top publications. He's also an author, and his third book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President, will be released this fall by Bloomsbury USA. For examples of his work, check out his excellent posts on Sheila Simon's attempt to be Quinn's running mate, his analysis of Blago's Letterman appearance, and his look at Giannoulias' trip to the Mount Olympus of Washington, D.C.

From time to time, NBC 5's Carol Marin, Mary Ann Ahern, and Phil Rogers will contribute their extensive political experience to the blog as well.

And as you can see, Ward Room is also illustrated. The caricatures come courtesy of Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jack Higgins, the longtime Chicago Sun-Times political cartoonist whose work has been published across the globe.

That's it for now. We hope you enjoy. Any questions or suggestions, just holler.

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