Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rahm the Screwup - James Warren - POLITICO Magazine

Rahm the Screwup - James Warren - POLITICO Magazine:

Rahm the Screwup 

 Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday survived a political near-death experience entirely of his own making.

America’s most compelling, and exhausting, big-city mayor defeated a previously little-known Cook County commissioner, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, in a runoff where Emanuel spent around $4 million in TV ads alone.
He claimed to be humbled as he spoke to supporters as U-2’s “Beautiful Day” served as the musical cue at election headquarters. It was far from that.
In fact, it is staggering that one of America’s smartest and feared politicians needed well over $20 million in both the general and runoff to keep his job against seemingly token opposition.
But a man who’s operated adroitly in the major leagues of politics for 25 years—as a champion fundraiser, bigshot White House aide for two presidents, congressman and mayor of a great international city—totally screwed up a reelection campaign that should have been a cakewalk.
That was especially true after he maneuvered to undermine a potential campaign by his most serious potential rival, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and saw a flaky but popular teachers union president, Karen Lewis, sidetracked by brain surgery and unable to run.
It left Garcia, a nice fellow of modest achievements who was a political empty vessel. He was handmaiden of a teachers union desperate to defeat the incumbent mayor after a rancorous 2012 teachers strike and an Emanuel directive that shuttered 50 Chicago public schools.
Though he ultimately won by a healthy margin of 56-44 percent, Emanuel was forced to the limit by a patently inferior opponent. He needed many of the cards in his golden Rolodex of donors, who include Google’s Eric Schmidt, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, hedge fund multi-billionaire Ken Griffin, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Why? It’s both confounding and obvious.
When he first became mayor in 2011, he inherited a great international city with harrowing financial troubles in a period of declining state and federal aid. Persistent crime, a beleaguered public education system, declining physical infrastructure, shameful poverty and segregation and a drop in population aggravated those ills.
A mix of cutthroat political operative and policy wonk, Emanuel’s record is arguably impressive during an era of declining resources and rising

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