Washington, D.C. is definitely the center of public policy. But, there is new evidence suggesting that heading into the 2012 re-election bid, Chicago is the undisputed center of the political universe as there are reports that the Obama Administration is picking former Commerce Secretary William Daley as its new Chief of Staff to replace Rahm Emanuel.
At present, interim Chief of Staff Pete Rouse is in charge. But, Rouse has already indicated he has no real desire to run the White House or its Cabinet, looking to play a more low key role in the next two years. And Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, just announced that he’s resigning from his post at the end of the month – after months of speculation that he was in the running to replace Emanuel. Klain moves on to accept a job offer to become President of Case Holdings, the investment company named after AOL founder Steve Case.
Here’s how it’s all connected to Chicago: Daley is the younger brother of outgoing Mayor Richard Daley, who is leaving office after over two decades of rule in the Windy City. Younger brother Bill also contributed some $50,000 to President Barack Obama’s inaugural celebration – another Chicago political native (although Hawaii is his homeland). Some observers wonder what Emanuel may have had to do with the pick of Daley as the Chicago mayoral race appears to have the former Congressman in the lead according to recent polls.
It’s a political power consolidation in Chicago with Emanuel possibly becoming Mayor, Obama’s 2012 campaign headquarters being based in Chicago and even former President Bill Clinton helping to solidify it by agreeing to campaign for Emanuel in the coming month before the Mayoral Democratic primary in February.
“The Chicago mayoral race is definitely not a local race,” says WVON-AM’s Santita Jackson in comments to Politic365.com. She notes that the reshuffling in the White House and the convergence of political players in the Windy City has huge implications for 2012 and beyond.
“This is a national race happening right in America’s heartland.”
But, many observers wonder about the appearance of so much political clout being centered in Obama’s hometown and how that will look to voters. While headquartering the campaign outside of the Beltway might be a smart move that suggests a plan to take the Administration outside of the Washington bubble, Obama could be creating a separate Chicago political bubble that could hurt perceptions in 2012.
“One downside would be the perception that Obama remains stubbornly cocooned and comfortable only with a small coterie of longtime loyalists with Chicago connections,” writes the National Journal’s Marc Ambinder.