Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Russ Stewart on the Mayor-elect's gameplan

There has been speculation on this not long after Emanuel had been elected Mayor last month. Not just from any cable news source but amongst local media and political pundits as well. North side political columnist Russ Stewart tells us what he thinks.
Until Mayor Rich Daley's unanticipated retirement, Emanuel's game plan was to return to Congress in 2012 or 2014, pushing out successor Mike Quigley, get back into the Democratic leadership, and become speaker of the house by the end of the decade. The Republicans' House takeover in 2010 and likely dominance in upcoming elections, and former speaker Nancy Pelosi's refusal to relinquish control of the Democratic minority, make that option not feasible. The speakership is now foreclosed. But, as Chicago's mayor, the presidency is not -- although he needs to win another job, Illinois' governorship, to get there.

As mayor, Emanuel need not curry favor with special interests, such as the public sector unions, because he has no intention to run for reelection in 2015. His goal is to be a competent, innovative, decisive, reformist, cost-cutting and tax-cutting mayor.

Having absorbed the intricacies of "triangulation," or co-opting the middle ground, from Clinton, Emanuel will position himself on every issue so as to maximize his publicity, enhance his reputation and demonize his enemies. He will be neither liberal nor conservative, but rather patently opportunistic. He will obsess on two major issues: fighting crime and upgrading educational performance. Having been elected without the backing of the police and teachers' unions, Emanuel owes them no debt. He can be creative, redeploying officers where needed, demanding teacher accountability, and embracing charter schools to inspire educational choice and invoke competition. If he performs deftly, he will be monumentally popular among both black and white voters in the short term. His goal: To produce tangible results within 2 years and then in 2014 venture into the fiscal and political wasteland of state politics, posturing as the "savior" who can rescue Illinois from the stupidities and vacillations of Governor Pat Quinn's 6-year "Reign of Error." By 2014 "Governor Jello" will be about as popular as a blemish at a beauty pageant. Quinn is a lame duck; he barely won in 2010, and he will not be electable in 2014.
By capturing City Hall, Emanuel has become a major player on the national stage. A presidential nomination in 2016 or 2020 is within his grasp, but only if he performs spectacularly as mayor and becomes Illinois' governor.
From the 5th Floor at City Hall, to the Governor's Mansion in Springfield, to finally 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. In Chicago's history at least one Mayor went on to become Governor of Illinois but that happened over a century ago. Others just became judges.

Well not sure what to think at this juncture. I'm just getting prepared for a future Rahm Emanuel administration at City Hall.

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