Much of the speculation over Rahm Emanuel’s possible run for mayor of Chicago has assumed that his candidacy would be a certain winner. But although he is a Windy City native, Emanuel would face some strong obstacles in a run for mayor.
Machiavelli noted that it was better to be feared than loved. Emanuel though could find that as a mayoral candidate he is neither feared nor loved. There will be little love for his candidacy without the backing of current mayor Richard Daley. And with a full slate of contenders, many of whom will have stronger ties to Daley, Emanuel may not be able to count on Daley’s support in the race. Emanuel also lacks a personal following or political machine of his own. Chicago politics is a tough game and without a strong network of foot soldiers to call on, few of the city’s power brokers will be motivated to lend their support. Also, one of Rahm Emanuel’s supposed strengths, the influence of former Chicago resident Barack Obama, might be overstated. Obama’s pull in a Chicago mayoral race would be negligible if there were one or more black candidates running as well.
On the other hand, Emanuel is likely to be out of a job after the November election, considering the likely Republican gains on the Hill and the natural midterm White House staff turnover. He also has the financial resources needed to fund a bid and his high name recognition and national media attention will be assets in a crowded field. He really has nothing to lose by running in Chicago. So why not take a shot?