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."
Some of Charles Schulz’s fans blame the cartoon dog for ruining Peanuts. Here’s why they’re wrong.
It really was a dark and stormy night. On February 12, 2000, Charles Schulz—who had single-handedly drawn some 18,000 Peanuts comic strips, who refused to use assistants to ink or letter his comics, who vowed that after he quit, no new Peanuts strips would be made—died, taking to the grave, it seemed, any further adventures of the gang.
Hours later, his last Sunday strip came out with a farewell: “Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy … How can I ever forget them.” By then, Peanuts was carried by more than 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries and read by some 300 million people. It had been going for five decades. Robert Thompson, a scholar of popular culture, called it “arguably the longest story told by a single artist in human history.”
A new report details a black market in nuclear materials.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press published a horrifying report about criminal networks in the former Soviet Union trying to sell “radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists.” At the center of these cases, of which the AP learned of four in the past five years, was a “thriving black market in nuclear materials” in a “tiny and impoverished Eastern European country”: Moldova.
It’s a new iteration of an old problem with a familiar geography. The breakup of the Soviet Union left a superpower’s worth of nuclear weapons scattered across several countries without a superpower’s capacity to keep track of them. When Harvard’s Graham Allison flagged this problem in 1996, he wrote that the collapse of Russia’s “command-and-control society” left nothing secure. To wit:
In a new book, the former Middle East peace negotiator Dennis Ross explores just how close Israel came to attacking Iran, and why Susan Rice accused Benjamin Netanyahu of throwing “everything but the n-word” at Barack Obama.
Updated on October 9, 2015 at 12:40 p.m.
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in Washington early next month for a meeting with President Obama, he should at least know that he is more popular in the White House than Vladimir Putin. But not by much.
This meeting will not reset the relationship between the two men in any significant way, and not only because Netanyahu has decided to troll Obama by accepting the Irving Kristol Award from the American Enterprise Institute on this same short trip. The meeting between the two leaders will most likely be businesslike and correct, but the gap between the two is essentially unbridgeable. From Netanyahu’s perspective, the hopelessly naive Obama broke a solemn promise to never allow Iran to cross the nuclear threshold. From Obama’s perspective, Netanyahu violated crucial norms of U.S.-Israel relations by publicly and bitterly criticizing an Iran deal that—from Obama’s perspective—protects Israel, and then by taking the nearly unprecedented step of organizing a partisan (and, by the way, losing and self-destructive) lobbying campaign against the deal on Capitol Hill.
“Wanting and not wanting the same thing at the same time is a baseline condition of human consciousness.”
Gary Noesner is a former FBI hostage negotiator. For part of the 51-day standoff outside the Branch Davidian religious compound in Waco, Texas, in 1993, he was the strategic coordinator for negotiations with the compound’s leader, David Koresh. This siege ended in infamous tragedy: The FBI launched a tear-gas attack on the compound, which burned to the ground, killing 76 people inside. But before Noesner was rotated out of his position as the siege’s head negotiator, he and his team secured the release of 35 people.
Jamie Holmes, a Future Tense Fellow at New America, spoke to Noesner for his new book Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing. “My experience suggests,” Noesner told Holmes, “that in the overwhelming majority of these cases, people are confused and ambivalent. Part of them wants to die, part of them wants to live. Part of them wants to surrender, part of them doesn’t want to surrender.” And good negotiators, Noesner says, are “people who can dwell fairly effectively in the areas of gray, in the uncertainties and ambiguities of life.”
A new tally of the those killed last month makes it the deadliest-ever disaster at the annual pilgrimage.
The death toll in last month’s Hajj stampede in Saudi Arabia is roughly double the number that the country first reported, the Associated Press is reporting.
The Saudi estimate of the disaster was 769, but the new estimate, based on an AP count, suggests that 1,453 people died in the stampede. This new number would make it the deadliest catastrophe in the history of the event.
The Hajj draws roughly 2 million pilgrims to Mecca each year, an observance that lends its host, Saudi Arabia, unrivaled prestige across the Muslim world. It also saddles the kingdom with billions of dollars of costs and logistical considerations. Over the course of the past 40 years, several of the pilgrimages have been marred by deaths caused from stampedes, the collapse of infrastructure, violence, and fires.
Forget the Common Core, Finland’s youngsters are in charge of determining what happens in the classroom.
“The changes to kindergarten make me sick,” a veteran teacher in Arkansas recently admitted to me. “Think about what you did in first grade—that’s what my 5-year-old babies are expected to do.”
The difference between first grade and kindergarten may not seem like much, but what I remember about my first-grade experience in the mid-90s doesn’t match the kindergarten she described in her email: three and a half hours of daily literacy instruction, an hour and a half of daily math instruction, 20 minutes of daily “physical activity time” (officially banned from being called “recess”) and two 56-question standardized tests in literacy and math—on the fourth week of school.
That American friend—who teaches 20 students without an aide—has fought to integrate 30 minutes of “station time” into the literacy block, which includes “blocks, science, magnetic letters, play dough with letter stamps to practice words, books, and storytelling.” But the most controversial area of her classroom isn’t the blocks nor the stamps: Rather, it’s the “house station with dolls and toy food”—items her district tried to remove last year. The implication was clear: There’s no time for play in kindergarten anymore.
It leaves people bed-bound and drives some to suicide, but there's little research money devoted to the disease. Now, change is coming, thanks to the patients themselves.
This past July, Brian Vastag, a former science reporter, placed an op-ed with his former employer, the Washington Post. It was an open letter to the National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins, a man Vastag had formerly used as a source on his beat.
“I’ve been felled by the most forlorn of orphan illnesses,” Vastag wrote. “At 43, my productive life may well be over.”
There was no cure for his disease, known by some as chronic fatigue syndrome, Vastag wrote, and little NIH funding available to search for one. Would Collins step up and change that?
“As the leader of our nation’s medical research enterprise, you have a decision to make,” he wrote. “Do you want the NIH to be part of these solutions, or will the nation’s medical research agency continue to be part of the problem?”
Kids who are adopted have richer, more involved parents. They also have more behavior and attention problems. Why?
Being adopted can be one of the best things to happen to a kid. People who adopt tend to be wealthier than other parents, both because of self-selection and because of the adoption screening process. Adoptive parents tend to be better-educated and put more effort into raising their kids, as measured by things like eating family meals together, providing the child with books, and getting involved in their schools.
And yet, as rated by their teachers and tests, adopted children tend to have worse behavioral and academic outcomes in kindergarten and first grade than birth children do, according to a new research brief from the Institute for Family Studies written by psychologist Nicholas Zill.
The leaderless GOP begins its search for a speaker anew, starting with a campaign to draft Paul Ryan.
First Eric Cantor. Then John Boehner. Now Kevin McCarthy.
Conservatives in and out of Congress have, within a span of 15 months, tossed aside three of the four men most instrumental in the 2010 victory that gave Republicans their majority in the House. When the leaderless and divided party gathers on Friday to begin anew its search for a speaker, the biggest question will be whether that fourth man, Paul Ryan, will take a job that for the moment, only he can win.
Ryan, the 2012 vice presidential nominee and chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, has for years resisted entreaties to run for speaker, citing the demands of the job on his young family and his desire to run the tax-writing panel, which he has called his “dream job.” And he did so again on Thursday, within minutes of McCarthy’s abrupt decision to abandon a race he had been favored to win. “I will not be a candidate for speaker,” Ryan tweeted. Yet the pressure kept coming. Lawmakers brought up his name throughout the day, and there were reports that Boehner himself had personally implored him to change his mind.
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.