Emanuel, Salazar to leave Administration? (Updated)

The Democratic exodus continues, with today’s emphasis shifting from the states and Congress to the administration: Rahm Emanuel is considering leaving his job as White House Chief of Staff to run for Mayor of Chicago, and Ken Salazar has no comment on whether or not he will resign as Interior Secretary to run for Governor of Colorado.

The Washington Post’s Sally Quinn has the scoop on Emanuel: “Emanuel is said to have told people that the chief-of-staff role is an 18-month job and that he is considering a run for mayor of Chicago.” Taeagan Goddard adds:

"Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's current term is up in February 2011 -- there is no term-limit on the office. Daley has had a difficult year both personally and professionally. His wife Maggie has been battling cancer, and his popularity has suffered from the botched privatization of the city's parking meters and the loss of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games."

This would be bad news for the White House, for at least two reasons. First, as Quinn points out, if Emanuel is worrying about his own political future, he might have less concerns for his boss’s. Second, is there anyone who could fill his shoes? Say what you will about his politics, but the man knows how to get things done. President Obama’s 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe writes in The Audacity to Win, “Rahm was a five-tool political player… I panicked at the thought Rahm might not go for [the job]. The gap between him and the next best contender was a gaping chasm.” The news also surprises me. I always assumed that Emanuel would eventually try to go back to the House and continue angling to eventually become Speaker of the House.

The other story comes from Colorado. Yesterday the conventional wisdom was that Governor Ritter’s retirement opens the door to a run from Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who would likely be a stronger candidate. But would he be the candidate if an even bigger name got in? Ed O’Keefe, also of the Washington Post, has the story:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar dodged four questions about a possible campaign for Colorado governor during a previously scheduled conference call with reporters on Wednesday. Salazar is reportedly "under tremendous pressure" to make a run as the state's current governor, Bill Ritter, said he will not seek reelection

Asked by another reporter if he is considering a run or has a preferred candidate, Salazar said: “I’m not going to comment on that. The governor has not yet made his formal announcement and there are other conversations that are going on in Colorado.” Salazar ignored similar queries later in the call. He spoke during a call that announced new requirements for oil and gas companies before they can drill on federal lands…

In his first year Salazar has instituted a department-wide ethics overhaul, settled a major class-action lawsuit regarding American Indian trust accounts and has faced criticism from environmentalists regarding his decision to remove grey wolves from the endangered species list. Wednesday's announcement has also earned him the ire of oil and gas companies that accuse him of discouraging development on public lands.

This one has fewer ramifications for the administration but more for the Colorado landscape. Salazar would be a formidable opponent: unlike Hickenlooper or Republican Scott McInnis, he has already won state-wide office once. He’s also Hispanic, an advantage in the state with the nation’s 7th largest Hispanic population. He’s also seen as more moderate than Hickenlooper, and Colorado is a purple, not blue, state.

The fact that Salazar said “there are other conversations that are going” suggests to me he’s wondering what Hickenlooper will do: Will Hickenlooper defer to me? Will he run if I do? Does he know yet? Do we need to work out a deal? Am I willing to risk my current job and the party’s standings for a bloody primary fight? Do I even want the job with my kids now in DC? This is a situation worth keeping an eye on, to say the least.

[Update 01-06-09 13:11 by Nathan Empsall] Public Policy Polling is not so rosy about Salazar:

I'm a little skeptical about whether a Ken Salazar candidacy for Governor in Colorado is a good idea for Democrats politically. Even before going to the cabinet Salazar's approval numbers were not stellar- in August of 2008 he was at a 39/36 spread in the state.

And Colorado has not been good to Barack Obama since he won the state. His approval was already below 50% there in April, even before his numbers started their slide nationally. When Gallup released approval numbers for all 50 states in August his standing in Colorado ranked 43rd, behind places like Alabama and Kentucky where he got trounced at the ballot box. Salazar's association with the Obama administration is more likely to have hurt his standing in the state than helped it.

[End Update.] Overall, this exodus is an intriguing story, and not necessarily the negative one the press claims it to be. It’s good the storyline is coming when it does as it gives the party plenty of time to prepare – better now than in May. The specific known and potential retirements are a mixed electoral bag, despite what Politico’s headlines may have you believe: Dorgan and Emanuel are bad. Dodd is good, very very good. Cherry is neutral. Salazar is a crapshoot, given Hickenlooper.

Tags: Rahm Emmanuel, Ken Salazar, CO-Sen, Chicago (all tags)



the quinn story is full of holes...

first of all, the first election for the city of chicago is in february 2011, so his term is not up then.  secondly, this story is being widely panned in chicago.  as the trib's blog says,

Other, more knowledgeable handicappers of the Chicago political scene doubt this scenario seriously.

rich miller notes:

There was a time several years ago when this seemed like a possible scenario - before anybody thought Barack Obama would be president and Rahm would be his chief of staff. He’s a mayoral favorite, after all. Daley went all-out for the guy in his first primary campaign.

let's not allow wishful thinking to get the better of us...

by bored now 2010-01-06 01:51PM | 0 recs
RE: the quinn story is full of holes...

He'd still want to leave early to first lay the groundwork for a campaign and then actually campaign. But that does move the story out a bit.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-01-06 02:10PM | 0 recs
RE: the quinn story is full of holes...

Damn... I figured we wouldn't rid ourself of that meddlesome Rahm that easily!

by LordMike 2010-01-06 02:18PM | 0 recs
Rahm has singlehandedly destroyed this administration...

Forcing the administration to the right whent he right had been discredited was incredibly stupid... alienating the people that got the president the job in the first place was even more stupid... Alienating senators like Dorgan by insisitng on siding with Big Pharma instead of with Obama's voters could cost us our majorities.

His departure would be most welcome!

by LordMike 2010-01-06 02:14PM | 1 recs
RE: Rahm has singlehandedly destroyed this administration...
So, to Mr. Rahm "git er done" Emmanuel... How did that work out for you when you decided to throw a gazillion dollars into the pointless Duckworth Congressional Campaign back in 2006? Cat got your tongue, buddy? Fuck Rahm Emmanuel. After the way he's treated the most successful DNC Party Chairman we've had in my lifetime he can go fuck himself.
by Obamaphile 2010-01-06 02:20PM | 2 recs
RE: RE: Rahm has singlehandedly destroyed this administration...

We won the House in '06 with the same scatter-shot anywhere-it-looks-like-we-can-win approach that helped Obama in '08. Had Dean gotten his way in '06, I think we'd have had a worse '06 but a better '08. Rahm was the opposite. Both approaches had merit, and Rahm's was that we had a bigger majority sooner. That's how it "worked out." I do agree that he shafted Dean who should be HHS Sec and that's wrong, but I'm not going to be petty enough to make my own policy and process views about personnel squabbles.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-01-06 02:52PM | 0 recs
Numbers Aren't Everything!

Rahm Emanuel is like the flea that rode on an elephant's back bragging about "look how far we've traveled!"

And even worse, forget the numbers -- he's always pulling to the right! He recruited horrible so-called "Moderates" (really DINOS) like Harold Ford who then tanked horribly in the Tennessee Senate race because they appealed to NOBODY and inspired NOBODY.

In a wave election, all too many of Rahm's "moderates" got swamped! Tammy Duckworth who he personally selected and funneled a GaZILLION dollars to is another example.

Democrats could have won a bunch of seats in both elections if Rahm hadn't been so eager to promote the right-wing of the party at the expense of progressives that he let a number of candidates SINK who might have won with a little more help.

by Cugel 2010-01-07 06:20PM | 2 recs
Forcing Obama? Rahm is Obama

I'm not disagreeing with your overall point, that the Administration shifted to the right and shafted progressive activists.

I do disagree that Obama is merely Rahm's puppet. This is the Obama Administration. If you have a beef with the Administration, the buck stops with Obama.

I am an ardent Obama supporter, but even I mist say that blaming Rahm instead of Obama is for the most part, foolish.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-06 03:57PM | 1 recs
RE: Forcing Obama? Rahm is Obama

I'm currently reading a book about the environmental history of the Mississippi River and a lot of the book takes place smack dab in the middle of the Progressive Era (first few decades of the 20th century).  One thing that's notable to me is that this era - which we still call the "Progressive Era" for some obvious reasons - was full of unfulfilled promises, votes blocked by the Senate, grandstanding pro-business politicians, and I might add, a lot of creative ways for the Progressives in the Roosevelt Administration to get around Congressional roadblocks.  This period was also notable for the beginnings of a lot of movements that didn't reach fruition until years, sometimes decades later.

I think that is a decent description of the era we're currently in.  I'm betting that we'll see a lot more disappointment over the next few years, but don't underestimate the power of having an Executive Branch on our side - especially if we get two Obama terms.

Last night Atul Gawande was on Charlie Rose and said something about the Health Care Reform bill that really struck me.  He said "the Senate bill doesn't do enough to bend the cost curve, but it provides all of the tools for some county or municipality to be the first ones to do it right.  Once someone does it right, it's only a matter of time until everyone does it right."  That's how this stuff happens.  There's a movement, there's a defeat, there's an agreement, there's the compromise to move forward.  That's progress in a Democracy.

by the mollusk 2010-01-06 04:22PM | 0 recs
Thank you for the historical perspective

This is why the GOP is fighting so hard to kill healthcare reform. If healthcare reform was something that had the potential to do political harm to the Democrats, they would have made their point and moved on to friendlier turf, coming back years later as Democrats did on the Iraq War, even though they voted for it.

What has the GOP been able to gain for themselves in terms of message out of opposing healthcare reform? We're obstructionists? No one likes obstructionists.

The GOP opposes healthcare reform because they know full well this is the first step towards establishing the societal meme that healthcare is a public service and not a privalege. They know (and exclaim aloud!), that once social programs are established in the United States, they never disappear and are inexoriably expanded.

I don't know how the liberal blogosphere would have behaved if it were around in 1937. I wasn't there either. But I do know that FDR was branded a sellout by then progressives over social security.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-07 12:51PM | 0 recs
RE: Forcing Obama? Rahm is Obama

Yes, and Haldeman and Erlichman were Nixon too, but that didn't absolve them of doing some horrible things.

Rahm may not be a flat out crook like those two, but he's the worst sort of influence! HE was partly responsible for convincing Obama throughout the health-care debate NOT to fight for the public option! He was constantly undermining everything and never standing up to fight for principles!

Even if he'd lost and had to concede the public option the health care bill would be MUCH better right now if we'd started out debating Medicare for All, and then had the PO as a fall-back position.

But, for that Obama and Emanuel would have to be WARRIORS willing to use the power of the presidency to push for serious reform with a massive public mobilizing campaign, instead of standing back and negotiating back-room deals with insiders!

But, the Democratic party would not be down in the dumps if Obama and Emanuel had taken the stronger course! That's why we elected him! TO FIGHT and not to carve private deals with Big Pharma in smoke-filled rooms!

by Cugel 2010-01-07 06:25PM | 1 recs

It is a good thing that emmanuel is  so very effective-why  would democrats have otherwise lost the populist battle? Why would they be be the object of voters anger after eight years of brilinant republican rule?

by rocky 2010-01-06 03:12PM | 0 recs
You have to break some eggs to make an omelette
I don't believe there is any way to be effective as Chief of Staff (especially in such a big tent) and not cause collateral damage. Moreover, I don't think the Democrats have "lost" the "populist" battle. They may not be winning it, but they haven't lost it, as the GOP has that last place spot firmed up. It's not a zero sum game.
by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-06 03:54PM | 1 recs
The democrats are doomed (doomed!) meme

Someone asked for a positive spin yesterday, and my thought was that democrats were bwing out during a strong news cycle and getting the meme out of the way early. The media is going to love to play the Democrats are doomed meme. But retirements so far as of today:

House of Representatives:
14 Republicans; 10 Democrats

6 Senate Republicans, 2 Democrats

We lose Dorgan, and lose the best shot at keeping a seat we would most likely lose. We lose Dodd, and we gain the best shot of keeping a seat we might lose. So instead of losing two senators out of two races, we may only lose one of two.

Dodd was in serious trouble, and the charges against him were sticking.

Better to get all this doom and gloom out of the way in January.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-01-06 04:04PM | 0 recs
Rahm down, SUmmers and Geithner to go!

Seriously replace them with progressives

by bruh3 2010-01-06 04:05PM | 1 recs
RE: Rahm down, SUmmers and Geithner to go!
Make my day please! Leave Rahm! The most successful DNC leader was treated so badly with Obamas blessing (presumed the Pres. thinks for himself). Howard Dean is the reason Obama is in the White House, his 50 state strategyworked. Now the DNC is slipping back into their old styles, its evident down at the local levels and come election time the faultlines will show that Kaine/Emanuel have shifted power back to the DLC. Makes me sick. When you think what could have been if Obama would have used Dean in his cabinet...but Rahm would not have that. What the press is saying behind doors that Rahm is not much different than Rove, you know he has too much power over Obama. The big question is-could OBAMA recover with progressives if Rahm Emanuel left? IMHO I have to wait and see, Howard Dean was my great hope, I will see what he says. Where is he?
by lja 2010-01-07 09:22AM | 2 recs
RE: Rahm down, SUmmers and Geithner to go!

And dont forget Peter "the out of wedlock baby" Orszag!

by Boilermaker 2010-01-08 01:06PM | 0 recs
Emanuel - One "M"!

You clue should have been your quote next to your own useage.

"...Sally Quinn has the scoop on Emmanuel: “Emanuel is said to have told..."


by Jeff Wegerson 2010-01-07 11:08AM | 1 recs
Oooops. Well two comments equals to M's I guess.


by Jeff Wegerson 2010-01-07 11:14AM | 1 recs
RE: Emanuel - One "M"!

Yup, thanks, fixed.

by Nathan Empsall 2010-01-07 01:54PM | 0 recs
Emanuel - One "M"!

You clue should have been your quote next to your own useage.

"...Sally Quinn has the scoop on Emmanuel: “Emanuel is said to have told..."


by Jeff Wegerson 2010-01-07 11:13AM | 0 recs
I agree with the PPP...

... If there's one person that is more hated than Bill Ritter by Republicans and Low-Information Independents in Colorado, it's Barack Obama (because "they both killed all the oil jobs here," as the locals love to say).  Those people have it out for anyone associatated with Obama and that will definitely include Salazar.

Hickenlooper, on the other hand, is so popular in Denver and Boulder that he could probably carry the state without carrying any other areas (okay maybe that's a little bit of hyperbole).  What I mean is that with Hickenlooper you don't have any of the DC establishment sticking too him.  He's branded effectively as a pro-business superstar and I don't see how that's gonna do worse than Salazar in a Dem primary.

I think Ken Salazar's still a good fit for Dept. of Interior because he was always a weak Dem in the Senate while his only real strength as a legislator is in his land and energy policy.  Lets hope he stays put.

by jlars 2010-01-07 12:26PM | 0 recs


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