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Would Barack Obama Endorse Rahm Emanuel Against a Black Candidate?


Three quotations Rahm Emanuel needs to think about if he is going to become mayor of Chicago:

1. "Daley is Rahm's primary key, and Obama is Rahm's run-off key."

In order to run for mayor, Rahm Emanuel, currently President Barack Obama's chief of staff, has to file at least 12,500 valid signatures by Nov. 22. This will not be difficult. There are several times that many signatures available in Chicago cemeteries. (OK, bad joke. Sorry.)

But this means Rahm must depart his job quickly to get his campaign up and running and raising money. (See next item.) So Rahm will have to quit before the crucial midterm congressional elections on Nov. 2, which Obama cannot like.

True, Rahm made a big sacrifice leaving the House, where he wanted to become the first Jewish speaker, in order to work for Obama. And now Rahm has the chance for another first: He could become the first Jewish mayor of Chicago.

But he may need Obama's help. Chicago has adopted a run-off system for mayor: If anyone fails to get 50 percent plus one vote on Feb. 22 next year, then the top two finishers compete on April 5.

It is possible that the top two finishers, each lacking a majority, could be State. Sen. James Meeks, an African-American minister and social conservative, and Rahm.

In the opinion of some, Rahm would need Obama's endorsement to win the run-off. But would Obama, who is still popular in Chicago, risk angering the black community to endorse a white guy?

"It would be very, very, very difficult for Obama to endorse Rahm against a black candidate," said Don Rose, a longtime political analyst and writer. "He'd have to be half-crazy to do it. But it might be a condition of Rahm's run. If he doesn't have Obama's support, he doesn't run for mayor."

Rose also think Rahm needs Mayor Richard M. Daley's support in the primary. But Daley has said publicly he will not support anybody, and I have been assured by those close to Daley that he will not change his mind.

Rose believes this is naive thinking for a race taking place in Chicago.

"Rahm is really looking to Daley to give him serious help," Rose said. "When Rahm won his congressional seat the first time, he did it with Daley's army. Daley says he's going to stay out of it, but what is important is not what Daley says, but what Daley does.

"Daley is Rahm's primary key, and Obama is Rahm's run-off key."

2. "He gets 20 people to give him $100,000, and he could raise $2 million in two weeks."

Before Dec. 9 of last year, Illinois was one of only five states with no limits on campaign contributions. But on that day, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law Senate Bill 1466, which caps contributions starting next year.

Perhaps because the bill was complicated or perhaps because few Chicagoans believe reform will really take place, the effect of the change on the next mayor's race has gotten little attention.

"On Jan. 1, there is going to be a cap of $25,000 on individual contributions in the mayor's race," a Chicago political insider told me. "If that law had been in effect in the last mayor's race, Rich Daley's contributions would have been cut in half."

Which means that anybody who wants to run for mayor has to gather the big bucks in the next 13 weeks. Of those considering a run for mayor, Rahm has a unique skill: He is a master fundraiser. He not only has about a million dollars in his congressional war chest, which he can use in the mayor's race, but he has the skills to multiply that.

"He gets 20 people to give $100,000, and he could raise $2 million in two weeks," the insider said.

The money may be the easy part, however. Rahm is currently viewed as a Washington figure. If he wants to be mayor, he has to change that.

"He has to convince people that it's not about Rahm, but about them," the political insider said. "He has to convince them he loves Chicago and being mayor is not a stepping stone to something else. He would be a lightening rod if he runs, but Rahm likes that."

3. "I hate baseball."

It is understood by Chicagoans that President Obama, whose home is on the south side of the city and Mayor Daley, who grew up a few blocks from Comiskey Park, are both White Sox fans.

But is Rahm Emanuel, who represented a district on the north side of Chicago, a Cubs fan? Maybe and maybe not.

In April 2008, then-Rep. Emanuel issued a statement praising the Cubs for their 10,000th win. But sportswriters had a field day with it. Not only did Rahm spell Ryne Sandberg's name as "Ryne Sandburg," not only did he get dates and statistics wrong, but he wrote: "The Cubs' home, Wrigley Field, is located at 1600 W. Addison in my district, and is the oldest National League ballpark and second oldest in the majors."

In fact, Wrigley Field is at 1060 W. Addison, not 1600 W. Addison, which makes one wonder which address Rahm enters into his GPS to get to the park.

But that is not the worst thing. My personal in-depth investigation has revealed that Rahm once swore under oath that he was not a Cubs or any other kind of baseball fan.

It was Thursday, May 16, 1996, in Room 2203 of the Rayburn House

Office Building. The Government Reform and Oversight Committee was investigating the "White House Travel Office matter," and Rahm, as a White House staff member, had been called to testify.

The transcript (which makes for extraordinarily dull reading) reveals that Rahm knew virtually nothing about the matter and when asked about a certain phone call, the content of which Rahm did not remember, his lawyer said, perhaps jocularly, "It could have been about the Cubs."

To which Rahm responded — under oath — "I hate baseball."

This could have been a joke. But in Chicago, baseball is nothing to joke about.

To find out more about Roger Simon, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at



1 Comments | Post Comment
"It would be very, very, very difficult for Obama to endorse Rahm against a black candidate," said Don Rose, a longtime political analyst and writer. "He'd have to be half-crazy to do it."
Perhaps, he could convince the voters that only his white half is against the black candidate.
Comment: #1
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed Sep 22, 2010 5:53 AM
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