Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in giving up his position as a co-chairman of the Obama campaign and instead taking on the gargantuan task of raising super-PAC money, is returning to his roots. He got his start with Bill Clinton’s campaign: as a relentless fundraiser, he helped to make the already scandal-scarred Arkansas governor’s unlikely nomination victory possible. Emanuel became the master of calling people: instead of saying thank you when his targets mentioned an amount they were willing to give, he lambasted and embarrassed them, telling them he wouldn’t accept that lowly sum because he knew they could do better. And they did.
That’s when Rahm was just a young operative; now he’s one of the most powerful people in the Democratic Party, and as mayor, he’ll be picking the pockets of rich Chicagoans, Republican and Democrat, city and suburban dweller. He’ll bring unrivaled energy and urgency to the task. Even Rahm might not be able to erase the Republican super-PAC lead, but he’ll give Karl Rove a severe case of heartburn.