Why Ed Burke Is at the Center of Rahm Conspiracies

If Rahm Emanuel is not allowed to run for mayor, his supporters will blame a conspiracy hatched in a storefront office at 2650 W. 51st St, in Gage Park.

That’s the headquarters of the 14th Ward Democratic Party, which has been controlled since 1968 by one Edward Burke, chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, patron of Gery Chico and husband of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.

Burke was rumored to be behind the initial challenge to Emanuel’s residency -- the Sun-Times’ Mark Brown called his support for the lawsuit “a poorly kept secret.

” When the appellate court ruled 2-1 that Emanuel is not a Chicago resident, the Tribune pointed out that both judges in the majority had been approved by the Cook County Democratic Party’s judicial slating committee, which is chaired by Ed Burke.

And, of course, there’s now the question of whether Burke’s wife should recuse herself from hearing the residency case, since her husband is the most powerful backer of Emanuel’s leading opponent.

ABC7’s Charles Thomas thinks the Burke-Emanuel feud began 10 years ago, when Emanuel ran for Congress against state Rep. Nancy Kaszak, and continued when Emanuel supported Forrest Claypool for Cook County Board President against the slated candidate, incumbent John Stroger.

Burke may be motivated less by love of Chico than by love of the Finance Committee chairmanship, and the power that comes with it -- a front row seat in the Council Chamber, a suite of offices in City Hall, a driver, a police detail, and oversight of every spending bill that passes through the Council.

Emanuel has refused to say whether he’ll support keeping Burke as Finance chairman, but it’s rumored he’ll try to kick him off that perch, as a way of demonstrating there’s a new boss in City Hall. Burke, on the other hand, has made it clear that under the next mayor, the City Council will reclaim powers it lost to the Daleys, such as writing the budget.

“It’s going to be a new day,” he’s said.

It’s not certain Emanuel can unhorse Burke. He’ll need 26 votes on the Council, and even Burke antagonists, such as Ald. Ricardo Munoz, say they’ll resist such a blow at the Council’s independence.

“I don’t think even Rahm Emanuel would want to pick that fight,” Munoz told Ward Room.

If you believe the conspiracy theories, Burke wants to make sure he can’t.

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!

Contact Us