Chicago’s former mayor Rahm Emanuel is being considered by President-elect Joe Biden for the role of transportation secretary. Emanuel was also former President’s Obama’s first chief of staff, as well as a senior advisor during the Clinton administration.
Deliberators on the matter spoke anonymously with the Associated Press, saying that “Emanuel is among multiple candidates in the running for the Cabinet position.”
An appointment would be a daring move, as Emanuel is a polarizing figure who has both staunch support and a slew of progressive detractors within the Democratic Party. For instance, in a November 9 conversation with the New York Times, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that appointing Emanuel would be “divisive.”
“Someone like Rahm Emanuel would be a pretty divisive pick,” she said to the newspaper, noting his mayoral stances on racial inequity and opposition to teachers forming unions. She then added, “[I]t would signal, I think, a hostile approach to the grass-roots and the progressive wing of the party.” Ocasio-Cortez elaborated via Twitter, referring to Emanuel’s response following the 2014 police killing of 14-year-old Laquan McDonald in Chicago. “We must govern with integrity and accountability,” she wrote. “Laquan McDonald’s life mattered.”
The congresswoman spoke on the matter again on November 23, saying “Rahm Emanuel helped cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald. Covering up a murder is a disqualifying for public leadership.”
Nevertheless, Emanuel has supporters in his native Chicago. Michelle Harris, a member of the city’s council, said to the Associated Press “Here’s a guy who understands government at all levels.” She further endorsed him, adding, “He’s the perfect candidate for the job. You don’t get many candidates that have more experience on how government works. He can start running Day One. He’s not going to be crawling or walking. He’s going to be running.”