Vastavam web: President-elect Joe Biden is considering former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a substantial and somewhat divisive figure in Democratic Party politics, to serve as his transportation secretary. Biden’s selection of his nominee to lead the Transportation Department is not believed to be imminent and Emanuel is among multiple candidates in the running for the Cabinet position, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private deliberations.
But his candidacy threatens to pull at the divisions among Democrats that Biden has largely managed to avoid as he begins to fill out his administration. Emanuel, a former three-term congressman who served as Barack Obama’s first White House chief of staff and was a senior adviser in Bill Clinton’s administration, has been a significant force in Democratic Party politics for much of the last three decades. He also turned reviving Chicago’s ragged public transportation system and overhauling the city’s two busy, worn airports into a top issue during his eight years as mayor. Emanuel is also credited with making Chicago one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in country during his time in office.
But selecting Emanuel could be a tough sell to some in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party who are critical of his handling of the high-profile police shooting death of Laquan McDonald, a Black teen killed by a white police officer, during his time as Chicago’s mayor. Allies of Emanuel in the Illinois congressional delegation have made the case to Biden transition officials that Emanuel’s knowledge of Congress and breadth of experience on big transportation projects during his eight years as mayor of the nation’s third-largest city would make him an effective leader at the Transportation Department, according to one person familiar with the matter.
Some of the city’s Black elected officials are also vouching for him. Here’s a guy who understands government at all levels, said Michelle Harris, a Chicago alderman who represents a predominantly Black ward on Chicago’s south side that benefited from Emanuel’s push for Chicago Transit Authority modernisation. Emanuel announced in September 2018 that he would not run for a third term as Chicago mayor, citing a desire to step away from the hectic life of elected office. The decision came as he saw his popularity erode in the city’s large African American community following the McDonald police shooting.
The death of McDonald, who was shot 16 times, became a touchstone moment in the ongoing national conversation about racial injustice. Emanuel said he did not see the grisly video until it was set to be made public in November 2015. Emanuel denied the coverup allegations. He also embraced a series of reforms in the city’s police department, including a federally court-monitored consent decree to ensure that changes were carried out. Backers of Emanuel say his efforts to revamp the Chicago Transit Authority’s L system, including significant swaths of the city’s predominantly Black neighborhoods, as well as adding more than 100 miles of protected bike lanes, should make him a leading candidate for the post.
During his time as mayor, Chicago saw 11 billion in airfield, terminal and infrastructure investments at the city’s airports. His administration also secured more than 4.6 billion in federal funding for Chicago transit, including the modernisation of the city’s iconic train system.