Durbin: Emanuel could win as Chicago mayor, but not easily

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Monday said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel could win a Chicago mayoral election to succeed the retiring Richard M. Daley, but that the city's unique demographics would make it difficult.

Durbin said he hasn't talked about the prospect with Emanuel, who is said to be mulling a run to lead the Windy City. But he said Emanuel is "talented" enough to know a campaign would be fraught with challenges.

"He understands the city, but there's a political dynamic there that is very complicated," Durbin said. "Here's how it goes: In the population, there are more Hispanics than blacks [and] more blacks than whites. In the voting population, there's more whites than blacks, [and] more blacks than Hispanics. So Mayor Daley has put together a coalition of mainly white voters and Hispanics, and enough blacks to get a majority. And the liberals would come his way, usually. Not his father, but for him. Now, you put in a black or a Hispanic or a white [candidate], and you say, 'OK, what's your coalition?' You can't do it alone. No single group can do it."

"[Emanuel] understands that. But if I were — and I'm not — in a position where I wanted to be mayor, I would have been on the phone last week. And I don't know that he is. I've not spoken to him about whether he's interested in running, or if he's doing anything. ... I'm just saying, it's a very complicated political situation — 21 years with the same mayor — and now comes the issue of who could put together such a coalition?"

More in Other races

Rahm Emanuel reelected Chicago mayor

Read more »