POLITICS -- February 23, 2011 at 8:23 AM EDT
Chicago Votes in Emanuel as Mayor
Rahm Emanuel celebrates with supporters after winning the Chicago mayoral race. Photo by John Gress/Getty Images.
From helping to run the country to running Chicago, Rahm Emanuel has had quite a year.
The results best tell the story. The former White House chief of staff defeated a field of six candidates with 55 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff, and can now plan to start his dream job May 16.
The destruction of his competition in a multi-candidate field has a lot to do with money, certainly. But Emanuel ran a near flawless campaign both tactically and temperamentally.
"All I can say, you sure know how to make a guy feel at home," Emanuel said, in a nod to his residency challenge, to a room full of supporters at his victory party Tuesday night.
"I want to extend my congratulations to Rahm Emanuel on a well-deserved victory tonight. As a Chicagoan and a friend, I couldn't be prouder. Rahm will be a terrific mayor for all the people of Chicago," President Obama said in a written statement.
As he promised during his victory speech, Emanuel will be back at an L stop Wednesday morning. He's expected to greet commuters at the 95th and Dan Ryan stop at 9 a.m. ET.
"Rahm Emanuel, a top adviser to two U.S. presidents who returned to Chicago just months ago, swept into the mayor's office Tuesday, inheriting a city reeling from recession and promising to reshape City Hall.
"He achieved what was once considered almost unthinkable, collecting a majority of support against five opponents in the first Chicago election without a sitting mayor on the ballot since 1947."
We can't wait for next year's annual meeting of U.S. mayors at the White House with President Obama. The West Wing staff will have fun with that one.
THE SPENDING SPIN
The pre-game skirmishes over how to fund the government for the remaining seven months of the fiscal year are still underway on Capitol Hill despite the absence of lawmakers.
In a flurry of press releases and press conference calls, the state of play remains much the same.
Funding of the federal government runs out under the current continuing resolution on March 4. Senate Democratic leaders Harry Reid, Nev., and Chuck Schumer, N.Y., called for a 30-day extension to negotiate a deal with House Republicans on their recently passed funding bill that cuts $61 billion from this year's spending.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, reasserted his position that his conference will not pass a short-term continuing resolution that contains no additional spending cuts from the current levels.
This is all part of the maneuvering each party is doing to win the public relations battle before they actually sit around a table and attempt to work out a deal.
POLITICO's Jonathan Allen and John Bresnahan take a look at the different dynamics at play in the current showdown compared to 1995's shutdown and report that Republicans appear more confident about the cards their holding.
The New York Times notes the lack of public involvement from the White House in the pre-negotiation spin.
Watch for a new round of polling in the next few days that will go a long way in shaping lawmakers' positions as well as press coverage heading into the March 4 deadline.
THE STILL VITAL CENTER
By ignoring the political middle, moderates argue that Democrats and Republicans are only making the problems of political polarization and failure of governance worse.
A new paper released Wednesday by the think tank Third Way, dubbed "The Still Vital Center," makes the case that moderates should play a greater role in American politics. The document, written by former Clinton administration advisers William Galston and Elaine Kamarck, also offers three solutions to "systemic structural problems" they contend foster partisanship in the country.
Galston and Kamarck propose getting rid of the closed primary system, arguing it enables the extremes of both parties to determine the nominees. They instead call for open primaries, or as California now does, one primary for all the candidates, and have the top two finishers, regardless of party affiliation, face off in the general election.
The second reform they put forward is ending gerrymandering, the practice of drawing legislative districts to one party's political advantage. Rather than allowing state legislatures handle the map making, Galston and Kamarck suggest placing the responsibility in the hands of a non-partisan commission.
They end with perhaps the most radical shift in the status quo, which would be to require super-majority elections of congressional leaders: the speaker and minority leader in the House of Representatives, and the majority and minority leaders in the Senate. Galston and Kamrack surmise that if the very first vote of each new Congress required 60 percent support, it would "test the ability of aspiring leaders to construct bipartisan coalitions that are so integral to effective governance."
Galston and Kamrack note that these three proposals would be just a start. "The institutional reforms we suggest cannot by themselves overcome decades of polarization and create the more consensual politics that the majority of our citizens crave. But by making each party's base more responsive to moderate voters, they would begin to move us away from the pathologies that disfigure our system," the pair write in their conclusion.
These three proposed reforms are going to be much harder to enact than Third Way's most recent success: getting Democrats and Republicans to sit together at the State of the Union.