It's now official: Rahm Emanuel is out of the White House and into the Chicago mayoral race. He has a team of strategists in place and will pursue a "listening tour" to build support and feel out the texture of the election.
Emanuel will bring considerable assets into this race, most notably his capacity for fundraising, and he'll likely be perceived as a frontrunner out of the gate--but he won't necessarily be the frontrunner. While only a handful of candidates have officially announced, more than 30 are on the table as potential entrants, a field that includes aldermen, city administrators, attorneys, a congressman, a former U.S. senator, and a sheriff.
A winning primary candidate will have to spend a minimum of $4 or $5 million, according to one longtime Chicago pol, and only a few candidates stand a chance of raising the money. Candidates will need to file 12,500 signatures by November 22, but insiders expect that 25,000-30,000 signatures will be needed, as many will be declared invalid--a tough task for every candidate in the race.
We'll know more about the field in the days and weeks after Emanuel's official entry, but here's a look at the top contenders to win it--in other words, Rahm's competition--as identified to The Atlantic by Chicago political insiders.
Tom Dart, sheriff of Cook County
Dart is probably Emanuel's toughest competitor, and, according to one insider, is a favorite over Rahm out of the gate.
"Dart's actually stronger than Rahm to start with," said Dick Simpson, a prominent former alderman and current professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. "He comes from the Southwest side of Chicago, he has strong ward organizations already backing him," and he has enjoyed support from key members of the Daley family and the mayor's allies.
Dart can draw votes from the same pool as Emanuel, and, although Emanuel has raised money for Mayor Richard Daley in the past, Dart stands a good chance at winning over key segments of Daley's political machine, acquiring the support network and foot soldiers necessary to win this race. According to a strategist, Dart and Emanuel could wind up fighting over the remnants of the Daley machine.
As a candidate, Dart has few drawbacks: he's already confronted problems with Cook County jails that happened during his tenure, and multiple Chicago insiders say he carries little baggage. Dart is circulating petitions and has over $200,000 for his campaign, according to a candidate list maintained by Progress Illinois.
Luis Gutierrez, U.S. congressman from Illinois' 4th District
Gutierrez is considered the strongest of the Latino candidates weighing entry into the election, and some observers expect racial politics to weigh heavily in this race. Gutierrez hasn't announced a bid, but he's known to be interested. He represents a district that stretches across the North Side of the city as well as parts of the South, West, and Northern suburbs.
He's capable of raising enough money, but opponents could delve into his past real estate deals to attack him. Gutierrez did business with a political donor who sold him a plot of land and built him a new home, and he made over $420,000 on real estate deals with political supporters between 2002 and 2008. If President Obama's dealings with Tony Rezko were a problem during his presidential run, Gutierrez's dealings could present a similar hurdle (though not an insurmountable one) in a mayoral race that will offer more intensity and a higher profile than a re-election race in the 4th district.
Bob Fioretti, alderman, 2nd Ward
Fioretti has been building support for a mayoral bid for months. He represents a multiracial ward in the middle of the city, which has given him experience winning African American votes. And he brings considerable cash with him into the race: Progress Illinois lists his current campaign account at just over $130,000, but Fioretti is said to have racked up closer to $500,000, targeting an even larger fundraising total for the month.
He's more formidable than a run-of-the-mill alderman and could raise the requisite funds, but a question remains over whether he can attract top-rate strategists and staff to work for him. "Mayoral campaigns are run a lot like presidential campaigns [in Chicago]--big operations with first-rate staff," according to Simpson. With the midterm elections only a month away, many Chicago strategists are working on other races.
A staffer has confirmed to Progress Illinois that Fioretti is running.
Miguel Del Valle, Chicago city clerk
A good campaigner with solid grassroots support, Del Valle has already aired a TV ad for his mayoral bid--and it was seen by many: Del Valle aired it during the Chicago Bears' Monday Night Football game against the Green Bay Packers last week. It was a clever move on Del Valle's part: since MNF airs on ESPN (and a local Chicago cable station), he was able to reach a massive Chicago audience for less money, as local network affiliates charge more for air time than cable stations. Not that MNF has low ratings, but if it still aired on ABC, Del Valle would likely have paid more.
"He's very much more of the independent and progressive kind of Democrat," said strategist Kitty Kurth, who suggested Del Valle could win support from progressive organizations in the city. Progressives in both DC and Chicago will work to oppose Emanuel, and if they rally around Del Valle, he could be a formidable candidate. The city's main progressive group, the Independent Voters of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization, has a "convoluted" endorsement process according to one strategist, and it remains to be seen whether Chicago's progressive organizations will be able to pick a single candidate.
Carol Moseley Braun, former U.S. senator
The first and only African American woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, Moseley Braun served from 1993 to 1999, losing out to Republican Peter Fitzgerald after one term. After that, she served as ambassador to New Zealand and mounted a presidential bid in 2004.
Having run for high-level office before, Moseley Braun knows how to handle herself in public appearances and debates, and she is said to have grassroots support for her campaign. Her drawbacks: Moseley Braun could struggle to raise the necessary funds, and her Senate term saw its share of controversy. In addition to some criticism over the handling of campaign funds, Moseley Braun met with Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha despite U.S. sanctions against him. She also has over $260,000 of debt left over from previous campaigns.
Moseley Braun has announced an exploratory committee for the race.
Rev. James Meeks, Illinois state senator
Meeks runs the Salem Baptist Church of Chicago, a megachurch on the city's South Side (see the photo on Salem's website for an idea of its size). The church's large membership gives him an instant base of support and volunteers, and he's been solid on a few issues, such as schools, during his political career. The Black Caucus of the Chicago City Council is currently evaluating candidates, and when it lands on one, it will likely try to convince the other African American candidates in this race to drop out. If Meeks emerges with its support, he'll be a key figure in this race.
He is circulating petitions but has not yet entered the race officially.
Flores represents formerly represented a ward in the Northwest part of the city as alderman and also serves as chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission, to which he was appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn. He's expected to be a quality fundraiser--he already has more than $300,000 in his war chest--but he may struggle to win grassroots support.
Flores is working to gather signatures but has not officially announced a bid.
UPDATE: This entry on Flores has been corrected. Flores no longer represents the 1st ward as alderman. The photo originally used in this post was incorrect (it was a photo of current 1st-ward alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno) and has been changed.
Honorable Mention: Gery Chico, chairman of the City Colleges of Chicago executive committee
The lawyer and community colleges chief may have trouble raising the money, but Gery Chico appears to be a favorite of Mayor Daley, having served as his chief of staff from 1992 to 1995. Though Daley has said he won't endorse in the race to succeed him, he recently lavished unprompted praise on Chico in a radio interview.
Daley, interviewed by Phil Ponce on WTTW-11's "Chicago Tonight" on Wednesday was asked "Do you feel a special bond with Rahm Emanuel?"
Daley said, "I feel with all of them - Gery Chico's closer to me than anyone else."
Ponce: "When was the last time you spoke with Rahm?"
Daley: "Maybe a month ago, two months ago. I spoke yesterday to Gery Chico."
Ponce: "What did he say to you or you say to him?" Daley: "Oh, he's running, I'm glad. He's a wonderful public servant, worked for me in a variety of capacities, chairman of the city colleges, did a tremendous job, spends a lot of time and effort on that."
Thicker ink, fewer smudges, and more strained hands: an Object Lesson
Recently, Bic launched acampaign to “save handwriting.” Named “Fight for Your Write,” it includes a pledge to “encourage the act of handwriting” in the pledge-taker’s home and community, and emphasizes putting more of the company’s ballpoints into classrooms.
As a teacher, I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could think there’s a shortage. I find ballpoint pens all over the place: on classroom floors, behind desks. Dozens of castaways collect in cups on every teacher’s desk. They’re so ubiquitous that the word “ballpoint” is rarely used; they’re just “pens.” But despite its popularity, the ballpoint pen is relatively new in the history of handwriting, and its influence on popular handwriting is more complicated than the Bic campaign would imply.
In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.
Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.
Dealing with misinformation, feeling powerless, and slowly getting better together
I thought the article would validate my husband’s experience. That’s why I emailed him the link to the decade-old New York magazine article about his alma mater, the American Boychoir School for vocal prodigies, where alumni from as late as the 1990s estimate that one in five boys were molested. Boys like Travis.
“It used to feel like an isolated incident that affected just me," Trav said.
It was the end of my workday on an October afternoon; I had just set my keys on the kitchen table. My coat was still buttoned.
“Now I know I spent nearly three years of my childhood at a boarding school not just with random pedophiles, but in a culture that allowed it.”
As his wife, how do I respond? That he survived? That he’s brave? That he’s a hero for letting me talk about it? That I will stand beside him with a personal mission and public vow that nobody will ever hurt him, physically or emotionally, again, the way they did during his 30 months as a choirboy from 1988 to 1990?.
Wine snobs, string quartets, and the limits of intuition
Several months ago, this author sat at a classical music concert, trying to convince himself that wine is not bullshit.
That may seem like a strange thought to have while listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major. But Priceonomics had recently posted an article investigating The Price of Wine, part of which reviewed research that cast doubt on both consumers’ and wine experts’ ability to distinguish between quality wine and table wine or identify different wines and their flavors. It seemed a slippery slope to the conclusion that wine culture is nothing more than actors performing a snobbish play.
Listening to an accomplished musician while lacking any musical experience resulted in a feeling familiar to casual wine drinkers imbibing an expensive bottle: Feeling somewhat ambivalent and wondering whether you are convincing yourself that you enjoy it so as not to appear uncultured.
Nervous Democrats are looking for alternatives as Hillary Clinton falters. But is the VP the right person for the job?
“I think panic is the operative mode for the Democratic Party,” David Axelrod, who has been on the receiving end of panic mode many times over the years, told me this week. I had asked Obama’s political guru how bad the current panic was for Hillary Clinton—bad enough for the party to seek an alternative? Bad enough, perhaps, to create an opening for Joe Biden?
Axelrod didn’t think so. “I think it’s indisputable she’s had a rocky few months,” he said. “But if you look at her support among Democrats, and the resources she brings, she’s still very strong—I think she’s going to be the nominee.”
Not everyone is so sure. Public opinion has turned starkly negative on Clinton in recent months, as she has struggled to put the scandal over her use of email as secretary of state to rest. In a poll released this week, the word most commonly summoned when people were asked about her was “liar.”
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The new drama series, which follows the Colombian kingpin’s rise to power, feels more like a well-researched documentary than the gripping saga it wants to be.
Netflix’s new series Narcos is possibly arriving at the wrong time: The doldrums of summer aren’t really the ideal moment for a narratively dense, documentary-like look at the rise and fall of the Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Narrated in voiceover by DEA Agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook), the early hours of Narcos feel like a history lesson, though an visually sumptuous one.
As Netflix continues to expand its streaming empire, it’s making a concerted effort to appeal to worldwide audiences, and Narcos fits neatly into that plan, alongside last year’s expensive critical flop Marco Polo. Narcos was shot on location in Colombia and stars the acclaimed Brazilian actor Wagner Moura as Escobar. It takes full advantage of its setting, loaded with sweeping helicopter shots of the Colombian jungle where Escobar founded his cocaine empire, filling a power vacuum left by various political upheavals in late-’70s South America.
Bruce Springsteen’s breakout album embodied the lost ‘70s—the tense, political, working-class rejection of an increasingly unequal society.
Forty years ago, on the eve of its official release, “Born to Run”—the song that propelled Bruce Springsteen into the rock-and-roll stratosphere—had already attracted a small cult following in the American rust belt.
At the time, Springsteen desperately needed a break. Despite vigorous promotion by Columbia Records, his first two albums, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle, had been commercial flops. Though his band spent virtually every waking hour either in the recording studio or on tour, their road earnings were barely enough to live on.
Sensing the need for a smash, in late 1974 Mike Appel, Bruce’s manager, distributed a rough cut of “Born to Run” to select disc jockeys. Within weeks, it became an underground hit. Young people flooded record stores seeking copies of the new single, which didn’t yet exist, and radio stations that hadn’t been on Appel’s small distribution list bombarded him with requests for the new album, which also didn’t exist. In Philadelphia, demand for the title track was so strong that WFIL, the city’s top-40 AM station, aired it multiple times each day. In working-class Cleveland, the DJ Kid Leo played the song religiously at 5:55 p.m. each Friday afternoon on WMMS, to “officially launch the weekend.” Set against the E Street Band’s energetic blend of horns, keyboards, guitars, and percussion, “Born to Run” was a rollicking ballad of escape, packed full of cultural references that working-class listeners recognized immediately.
On the desperation behind the migrant tragedy in Austria
On Thursday, as Krishnadev Calamur has been tracking in The Atlantic’s new Notes section, Austrian authorities made a ghastly discovery: a truck abandoned in the emergency lane of a highway near the Hungarian border, packed with the decomposing bodies of 59 men, eight women, and four children. They are thoughtto be the corpses of migrants who suffocated to death, perhaps two days earlier, in the bowels of a vehicle whose back door was locked shut and refrigeration and ventilation systems weren’t functional. Stray identity documents suggest that at least some of the victims were Syrian—refugees from that country’s brutal civil war. The truck featured an image of a chicken and a slogan from the Slovakian poultry company that the lorry once belonged to: “I taste so good because they feed me so well.”