Thursday, November 06, 2008

Rahm Emanuel and chicago politics

Since Rahm Emanuel of the democratic 5th congressional district, most likely will be President Obama chief of Staff, I am wondering why this particular congressional seat is seemingly more powerful than other Chicago area or Illinois congressional seats.

It looks to me that the 5th congressional district seat is the most important Congressional seat in Illinois, despite some of its former occupants have went to jail, but one became governor and the while Rahm had Emanuel served a stint in the Israeli Army in the early 90s and now is poised to become the White House Chief of Staff.

This Congressional seat has always been as far as I remember been occupied by powerful Chicago politicians and leaders who later on either went to Jail or become governors of the state, or eventually might end up in jail!

Historically, as far as I remember, that seat was occupied almost forever by former congressman Dan Rostenkowski, who rose to become the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means committee in the US Congress, and later was implicated in a corruption scandal, found guilty, and served time in a Wisconsin jail.

After Rostenkowski, came a little known Chicago attorney name Patrick Flanagan, who only served one term and nothing became of him,

Then came the current state of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich the son in law of Patrick Mill the long time powerful Chicago alderman who helped the husband of his daughter win this Congressional seat and later on fought with him publically on the pages of the Chicago newspapers (an enjoyable fight!)

Its worth noting that Governor Blagojevich is under suspicion by the federal investigators over his connections with Tony Rizko who later was convicted for corruption.

After the election of Blagojevich to the governorship of Illinois, the seat became vacant and two former White House staffers competed for that coveted seat.

One was Pete Dagher who later lost that election in 2002.

What’s interesting about Rahm Emanuel is that as soon as he ran for the seat, he managed to get the endorsement of Chicago Mayor, Richard M. Daley and governor Rod Blagojevich. While President Clinton was hesitant in the beginning of whom to endorse because both Dagher and Emanuel had worked for him at the White House, albeit Emanuel assumed a higher profile position especially during Clinton Impeachment trial. Later on, Clinton Endorsed Emanuel.

Despite his high profile endorsements and accumulating an impressive amount of campaign money, Emanuel was worried that Dagher could steal that seat from him since both worked for Clinton rendering White House experience of Emanuel a moot point.

I was told, back then, by senior person in Pete Dagher campaign that Emanuel had offered Dagher a job if he gives up his campaign and leave it for Emanuel. Dagher refused and lost the election.

As soon as Emanuel won the seat and moved to Washington, he was offered a powerful committee assignment that placed him in the top democratic leadership in the House.

Compare that with Jessie Jackson Jr. who has been serving in the House since the 90s from the 1st congressional district, yet he is missing in action in the House keeping a very law profile. Jackson won that seat after the debacle and scandalous former Congressman Mel Reynolds who later went to jail for his relationship with an underage “Catholic school” girl” (Remember Mel… J )

The 1st Congressional district was home to former Congressman Gus Savage who got himself in deep trouble for criticizing Israel and its powerful lobby AIPAC. Mel Reynolds ran for Savage’s seat as friendlier to Israel, he was supported by AIPACK and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reisndorf who was one of his biggest financial backers.
Jessie Jackson Jr, comparing to Emanuel, has almost no power on the Hill, despite his seniority in Congress. Perhaps because the Younger Jackson never really got out of his father, the elder Jackson, shadow and limited himself to a local South Side profile.

Even Congressman Bobby Rush of the Chicago 2nd Congressional district, who is senior to both Emanuel and Jackson, is less powerful than Emanuel.
What does that say?
It says that Emanuel got better connections in Chicago especially with the Mayor and better connections in Washington which helped him taking over a powerful position with the Democratic Party and now as White House Chief of Staff.

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