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."
More on the F-16 and Cessna crash, and whether the collision of a military and a civilian aircraft was also a collision of cultures
Early this month an Air Force F-16, under the command of an experienced Air Force pilot, rammed into a small-civilian Cessna 150 propeller plane, not far from Charleston, South Carolina. The Air Force pilot ejected to safety; both people aboard the Cessna were killed.
The next three paragraphs are background for the pointed and interesting reader-messages I am about to quote. If you’re already up to speed with previous installments (one, two, three), you can skip ahead to the messages. They highlight an aspect of the modern military-civilian divide I had not considered before this episode.
In an original item on the crash, I noted some of the perils civilians could face when flying near designated military areas—even though this crash happened in ordinary uncontrolled airspace. That is, it occurred when neither plane was within a Military Operations Area (MOA), where civilian pilots are warned about risks from high-speed military aircraft, nor inside the controlled “Class C” airspace that surrounds Charleston’s airport. (Medium-sized commercial airports like Charleston’s typically are ringed by Class C airspace, so the controllers can sequence in the airline, cargo, civilian, military, and other traffic headed toward their runways. The very busiest airports, like LAX or JFK, are surrounded by larger zones of Class B airspace for their more complex traffic-control jobs. In case you’re wondering, Class A airspace is the realm above 18,000 feet where most jet travel occurs.)
The paper of record’s inaccurate reporting on a nonexistent criminal investigation was a failure that should entail more serious consequences.
I have read The New York Times since I was a teenager as the newspaper to be trusted, the paper of record, the definitive account. But the huge embarrassment over the story claiming a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton for her emails—leading the webpage, prominent on the front page, before being corrected in the usual, cringeworthy fashion of journalists who stonewall any alleged errors and then downplay the real ones—is a direct challenge to its fundamental credibility. And the paper’s response since the initial huge error was uncovered has not been adequate or acceptable.
This is not some minor mistake. Stories, once published, take on a life of their own. If they reinforce existing views or stereotypes, they fit perfectly into Mark Twain’s observation, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” (Or perhaps Twain never said it, in which case the ubiquity of that attribution serves to validate the point.) And a distorted and inaccurate story about a prominent political figure running for president is especially damaging and unconscionable.
A newly discovered artifact buried with one of Jamestown’s most prominent leaders suggests he could have been a crypto-Catholic.
After 400 years in the Virginia dirt, the box came out of the ground looking like it had been plucked from the ocean. A tiny silver brick, now encrusted with a green patina and rough as sandpaper. Buried beneath it was a human skeleton. The remains would later be identified as those of Captain Gabriel Archer, one of the most prominent leaders at Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in America. But it was the box, which appeared to be an ancient Catholic reliquary, that had archaeologists bewildered and astonished.
“One of the major surprises was the discovery of this mysterious small silver box,” said James Horn, the president of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation. “I have to say, we’re still trying to figure this out. You have the very strange situation of a Catholic reliquary being found with the leader of the first Protestant church in the country.”
The new version of Apple’s signature media software is a mess. What are people with large MP3 libraries to do?
When the developer Erik Kemp designed the first metadata system for MP3s in 1996, he provided only three options for attaching text to the music. Every audio file could be labeled with only an artist, song name, and album title.
Kemp’s system has since been augmented and improved upon, but never replaced. Which makes sense: Like the web itself, his schema was shipped, good enough,and an improvement on the vacuum which preceded it. Those three big tags, as they’re called, work well with pop and rock written between 1960 and 1995. This didn’t prevent rampant mislabeling in the early days of the web, though, as anyone who remembers Napster can tell you. His system stumbles even more, though, when it needs to capture hip hop’s tradition of guest MCs or jazz’s vibrant culture of studio musicianship.
The agreement doesn’t guarantee that Tehran will never produce nuclear weapons—because no agreement could do so.
A week ago I volunteered my way into an Atlantic debate on the merits of the Iran nuclear agreement. The long version of the post is here; the summary is that the administration has both specific facts and longer-term historic patterns on its side in recommending the deal.
On the factual front, I argued that opponents had not then (and have not now) met President Obama’s challenge to propose a better real-world alternative to the negotiated terms. Better means one that would make it less attractive for Iran to pursue a bomb, over a longer period of time. Real world means not the standard “Obama should have been tougher” carping but a specific demand that the other countries on “our” side, notably including Russia and China, would have joined in insisting on, and that the Iranians would have accepted.
Has the Obama administration’s pursuit of new beginnings blinded it to enduring enmities?
“The president said many times he’s willing to step out of the rut of history.” In this way Ben Rhodes of the White House, who over the years has broken new ground in the grandiosity of presidential apologetics, described the courage of Barack Obama in concluding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the Islamic Republic of Iran, otherwise known as the Iran deal. Once again Rhodes has, perhaps inadvertently, exposed the president’s premises more clearly than the president likes to do. The rut of history: It is a phrase worth pondering. It expresses a deep scorn for the past, a zeal for newness and rupture, an arrogance about old struggles and old accomplishments, a hastiness with inherited precedents and circumstances, a superstition about the magical powers of the present. It expresses also a generational view of history, which, like the view of history in terms of decades and centuries, is one of the shallowest views of all.
Even with the overwhelming recent New York cover story, the women pay a price for speaking out.
Who still defends Bill Cosby? After newly unsealed depositions revealed that the comedian admitted to acquiring sedatives to give to women he wanted to have sex with, his longstanding backer Whoopi Goldberg recanted her support for the man accused of dozens of rapes over the years. The singer Jill Scott, too, said she was wrong when she suspected a media conspiracy against him. And if Cosby’s former costars, including Phylicia Rashad, still believe him to be the target of an illegitimate smear campaign, they haven’t spoken up to say so in a while. Cosby’s lawyer is currently making the rounds in the media to say his deposition has been misconstrued—but that argument, even if believed, doesn’t refute the idea that he used drugs to take advantage of women.
U.S. officials are turning to Russia for help with Iran and Syria, even as the Ukrainian conflict persists.
If you believe all the talk out there lately, Vladimir Putin is not only duplicitous and hypocritical—the Russian president’s also been pretty damn busy recently. Busy cutting secret deals with the same Europeans and Americans he has been vilifying for years. And if you believe the rumors, the Europeans and Americans have also been busy selling out Ukraine to the Russians.
Not that any of this would be unusual or particularly surprising. Cynicism, duplicity, and hypocrisy are often the reserve currencies of politics, where interests tend to trump values.
There have long been suspicions that the United States and Europe might give Ukraine up in exchange for Russia’s support in securing a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program. Additionally, Washington has been seeking Moscow’s backing in securing a managed, orderly, and negotiated exit for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, which would go a long way toward ending the conflict in that country.
Orr: “Sometimes a thing happens. Splits your life. There’s a before and after. I got like five of them at this point.”
This was Frank offering a pep talk to the son of his murdered former henchman Stan in tonight’s episode. (More on this in a moment.) But it’s also a line that captures this season of True Detective so perfectly that it almost seems like a form of subliminal self-critique.
Remember when Ray got shot in episode two and appeared to be dead but came back with a renewed sense of purpose and stopped drinking. No? That’s okay. Neither does the show: It was essentially forgotten after the subsequent episode. Remember when half a dozen (or more) Vinci cops were killed in a bloody shootout along with dozen(s?) of civilians? No? Fine: True Detective’s left that behind, too. Unless I missed it, there was not a single mention of this nationally historic bloodbath tonight.