PI Original Josh Kalven Thursday December 18th, 2008, 9:20am

Live From IL-5: Emanuel Staying Out Of It

When rumors surfaced in mid-November that Rahm Emanuel was hoping to find a placeholder to sit on his House seat until he finished up a stint as White House chief of staff, it left a lot of folks -- including myself -- scratching their head. The idea that Emanuel would ...

When rumors surfaced in mid-November that Rahm Emanuel was hoping to find a placeholder to sit on his House seat until he finished up a stint as White House chief of staff, it left a lot of folks -- including myself -- scratching their head.  The idea that Emanuel would attempt to pull off such a maneuver amid all the intense media scrutiny on Illinois seemed a bit far-fetched.  But according to an article by the Sun-Times Fran Spielman today, he appears to have been doing just that:

Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), Mayor Daley's unofficial City Council floor leader, had hoped to emerge from the crowded field of candidates in the 5th Congressional District by winning Daley's support and by persuading Emanuel to use his formidable powers of persuasion to clear the field. [...]

He was believed to be leaning toward O'Connor, in part, because the alderman might be amenable to giving up the seat at some point. [...]

At least until the Blagojevich story broke:

But now that the Chicago Sun-Times has lifted the veil on Emanuel's efforts to persuade Blagojevich to appoint Obama family friend Valerie Jarrett to the U.S. Senate, Emanuel has -- as one veteran ward boss put it -- "gone underground."

CQ's Emma Dumain called me on the day of Blagojevich's arrest to gauge the impact on the 5th Congressional District race.  I hinted at the time that I thought the governor's scandal would prevent any of the rumored manuevering from advancing and allow for a relatively clean race.  Spielman's report seems to indicate things are moving that direction.  We'll see if it lasts.  

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