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."
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.
The drug modafinil was recently found to enhance cognition in healthy people. Should you take it to get a raise?
If you could take a pill that will make you better at your job, with few or no negative consequences, would you do it?
In a meta-analysis recently published in European Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers from the University of Oxford and Harvard Medical School concluded that a drug called modafinil, which is typically used to treat sleep disorders, is a cognitive enhancer. Essentially, it can help normal people think better.
Out of all cognitive processes, modafinil was found to improve decision-making and planning the most in the 24 studies the authors reviewed. Some of the studies also showed gains in flexible thinking, combining information, or coping with novelty. The drug didn’t seem to influence creativity either way.
All of the downsides of being a subordinate, combined with all of the downsides of having to tell people to do things they don't want to do.
When researchers try to determine the types of workers who are most prone to depression, the focus is usually on the misery of those at the bottomof a company’s hierarchy—the presumed stressors being the menial duties they're tasked with and their lack of say in defining the scope of their jobs.
But it turns out that middle managers have it worse. In a new study from researchers at Columbia University, of nearly 22,000 full-time workers (from a dataset from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions), they saw that 18 percent of supervisors and managers reported symptoms of depression. For blue-collar workers, that figure was 12 percent, and for owners and executives, it was only 11 percent.
Four and a half years of violent conflict have destroyed entire regions of Syria. Caught in the middle of all this horror are the children of Syria, relying on parents who have lost control of their own lives and are now being forced to make difficult choices in desperate circumstances.
Four and a half years of violent conflict have destroyed entire regions of Syria. Neighborhoods have been smashed by shelling and government barrel bombs, and towns have been seized by rebels and ISIS militants, then retaken by government troops, killing hundreds of thousands and injuring even more. The United Nations now estimates that more than 4 million Syrians have become refugees, forced to flee to neighboring countries or Europe. Caught in the middle of all this horror are the children of Syria, relying on parents who have lost control of their own lives and are now being forced to make difficult choices in desperate circumstances. Though many families remain in Syria’s war zones, thousands of others are taking dangerous measures to escape, evading militias, government forces, border guards, predatory traffickers, and more, as they struggle to reach safety far from home.
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.
A new study shows that the field suffers from a reproducibility problem, but the extent of the issue is still hard to nail down.
No one is entirely clear on how Brian Nosek pulled it off, including Nosek himself. Over the last three years, the psychologist from the University of Virginia persuaded some 270 of his peers to channel their free time into repeating 100 published psychological experiments to see if they could get the same results a second time around. There would be no glory, no empirical eurekas, no breaking of fresh ground. Instead, this initiative—the Reproducibility Project—would be the first big systematic attempt to answer questions that have been vexing psychologists for years, if not decades. What proportion of results in their field are reliable?
Yanis Varoufakis on Grexit, the media, and economics
When Yanis Varoufakis was elected to parliament and then named as Greek finance minister in January, he embarked on an extraordinary seven months of negotiations with the country’s creditors and its European partners.
On July 6, Greek voters backed his hardline stance in a referendum, with a resounding 62 percent voting No to the European Union’s ultimatum. On that night, he resigned, after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, fearful of an ugly exit from the euro zone, decided to go against the popular verdict. Since then, the governing party, Syriza, has splintered and a snap election has been called. Varoufakis remains a member of parliament and a prominent voice in Greek and European politics.
It is not too late to strengthen the Iran deal, a prominent critic says.
It appears likely, as of this writing, that Barack Obama will be victorious in his fight to implement the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his secretary of state, John Kerry. Republicans in Congress don’t appear to have the votes necessary to void the agreement, and Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign to subvert Obama may be remembered as one of the more counterproductive and shortsighted acts of an Israeli prime minister since the rebirth of the Jewish state 67 years ago.
Things could change, of course, and the Iranian regime, which is populated in good part by extremists, fundamentalist theocrats, and supporters of terrorism, could do something monumentally stupid in the coming weeks that could force on-the-fence Democrats to side with their Republican adversaries (remember the Café Milano fiasco, anyone?). But, generally speaking, the Obama administration, and its European allies, seem to have a clearer path to implementation than they had at the beginning of the month.
But no tale of posthumous success is quite as spectacular as that of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, the “cosmic horror” writer who died in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1937 at the age of 46. The circumstances of Lovecraft’s final years were as bleak as anyone’s. He ate expired canned food and wrote to a friend, “I was never closer to the bread-line.” He never saw his stories collectively published in book form, and, before succumbing to intestinal cancer, he wrote, “I have no illusions concerning the precarious status of my tales, and do not expect to become a serious competitor of my favorite weird authors.” Among the last words the author uttered were, “Sometimes the pain is unbearable.” His obituary in the Providence Evening Bulletin was “full of errors large and small,” according to his biographer.
What if restrictions on Western food are more than just a post-imperial temper tantrum?
One face of Vladimir Putin's brave new Russia is a man called Nikolai.
We don't know his last name, but we know he lives in Vladivostok. And we know that after having a few drinks on the evening of August 16, he called the cops to rat on his neighbors for cooking illegally imported goose meat.
“I served in the army and I understand the situation like this: We have our superiors and they give orders that we must carry out, meaning there is the law and we must obey it,” Nikolai said, according to Russian media reports.
Another face of the brave new Russia is Andrei Polyakov, leader of St. Petersburg’s Cossack community. Polyakov recently said he would regularly send his men, armed with a mobile crematorium, to raid storessuspected of selling contraband foreign food. The food snitches and food vigilantes are taking their cues from the top, of course.