There is a general rule of thumb in politics: Do not take on an "entrenched incumbent." Violating this political rule of thumb can generally end in disastrous results. President Barack Obama learned that lesson in 2000 when he took on an "entrenched incumbent" in challenging Congressman Bobby Rush and as Obama later put it; "He got spanked," politically speaking of course. The exception to this rule of thumb is that when the "incumbent" is not so "entrenched," as is the case with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, it can be safely violated. Chicago Sun Times columnist Michael Sneed is reporting today that two prominent Chicago politicians, State Senator Kwame Raoul and former Senate President Emil Jones Jr., are considering a challenge to the "not-so-entrenched incumbent," Rahm Emanuel.
It started this past Monday, when Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle made public her desire not to take on Emanuel for Mayor of Chicago, leaving the task of unseating him to Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.
However, one source told Sneed about the concerns of a Karen Lewis run against Emanuel. "We need a person who understands finance and the ins and outs of government, and Karen Lewis could be a disaster in that category."
That turns the conversation to Raoul, Sneed writes in her column. Sneed mentions Raoul, even though on Wednesday he had taken himself out of the running according to Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun Times.
Taking himself out of the running could be subject to change, even though Raoul told Spielman he was concerned about raising enough money in order to run a viable campaign for himself or any other possible contenders. "It speaks to the disturbing influence of money. You’ve got to have the resources to be viable."
Referring to himself, Raoul added, "To what extent are we both nurturing and embracing a bench? That’s a valid question. Part of that will come back to the resource question. You can have bright stars and up-and-comers. But, without resources, they will always be just bright stars and up-and-comers."
The concern of some, who know Raoul's feelings on the matter, is the issue of money and raising money for a viable campaign. There is no doubt that Raoul can raise funds, or for that matter that Emil Jones can raise money. The question is whether they can compete with Emanuel, who has taken fundraising it into a different orbit.
Raoul is keenly concerned about the role that money plays in politics, that prohibits highly-qualified candidates, like himself, from even considering a run in races like the mayoral race, given that Rahm Emanuel at the moment is sitting with $8,329,481.13 in cash on hand, according to the Illinois Elections Board. While Raoul is no slouch either as a fundraiser, his cash on hand is a paltry $418,006.40, when compared to Emanuel's total.
Will this stop Raoul from entering the race anyway? The question is answered with a shoulder shrug, but the answer is not yet "no."
Raoul had considered a run for Illinois Attorney General and would have jumped in had the current Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, would have challenged Governor Pat Quinn in the Democratic primary. Lisa Madigan opted out of the race. Raoul briefly considered a run himself against Quinn, but dropped the idea. Raoul was on the list of candidates considered by Quinn as lieutenant governor, but Paul Vallas, former CEO of the Chicago Public Schools was instead chosen.
Another name out there and mentioned by Sneed is former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr., a friend and mentor of President Obama. Age would be a factor with Jones, who is 78. Sneed says that Jones would have to be "cajoled and convinced." Jones the is chairman of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority and Sneed says is a "viable commodity because he knows the political ropes."
However, Jones could offer invaluable advice to a younger candidate, with lots of ambition. Jones once did that for Barack Obama. After all, Raoul is the man that replaced Obama in the Illinois state senate.
Could Jones be that same mentor to another young Illinois state senator, Kwame Raoul?