Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is under consideration to lead the department of transportation, people familiar with the matter say, a move that would enrage progressive activists if the former Illinois congressman and White House chief of staff in the Obama administration was ultimately nominated to join the President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet.
Emanuel has expressed his interest in the post, telling allies that the nation’s infrastructure challenges are so dire that a person with experience from the executive and legislative branch would be an asset.
Emanuel is among a number of people who are expected to be considered for the job, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Biden has, so far, not named any cabinet posts during his presidential transition, which has been partially stalled by President Donald Trump fighting the results of the election and not conceding. Biden is not expected to make any announcements until after Thanksgiving.
But Biden has announced a host of top White House jobs, including Ron Klain, one of his most trusted campaign advisers, for chief of staff and both Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign manager, and Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, a top adviser.
Emanuel’s record in Chicago could be a major hurdle to confirmation, particularly among progressives, considering the city’s crime rate and the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, which is the leading reason he did not seek a third term as mayor.
Emanuel has been a mainstay in Democratic politics for decades. He was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton in in the 1990s, before he represented Illinois in the House from 2003 to 2009. He left the House in 2009 to become chief of staff to President Barack Obama, leaving in 2010 to successfully run for mayor.
Jeff Hauser, director of the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said that Biden picking Rahm “would cause at least half of the Democratic Party to jump off the Biden train.”
“From civil rights activists to economic progressives, it is hard to identify a group of grassroots activists whom Rahm hasn’t permanently alienated,” said Hauser.
This initial reaction is an example of how Biden’s Cabinet selections will be a jigsaw puzzle for the President-elect, where factoring the diversity of race, gender and ideology of all appointments will paint a broader picture of how Democrats, including progressives, view the Biden administration.
Biden has pledged he will nominate a Cabinet that reflects the diversity of the country.