The Big Payback: Howard Dean Endorses Rahm's Rival for Mayor

The nod to the mayor's rival is just the latest chapter in a long-running feud.

DIMON ASPEN

Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, speaks during an Aspen Institute event in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013.

Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg

Suffice it to say there is no love lost between Howard Dean and Rahm Emanuel. 

On Thursday, Dean formally endorsed Emanuel's challenger, Jesús "Chuy" García, in Chicago's April 7 mayoral runoff election.

“When I ran for president in 2004, I told supporters in my stump speech that I represented the ‘Democratic wing of the Democratic Party’ — a line inspired by Paul Wellstone that captured the spirit of my grassroots campaign," Dean said in his statement. “Jesús ‘Chuy’ García is running a similar people-powered campaign in Chicago and that’s why I am proud to announce that I am endorsing him as the progressive choice to be Chicago’s next mayor.”  

After his presidential aspirations went up in flames following his much-derided victory yell following his disappointing third place finish in the 2004 Iowa caucuses, Dean went on to found Democracy for America, a grassroots political organization that has been working to elect García. When Emanuel failed to avoid a runoff on Feb. 24, Democracy for America made sure to rub it in. 

"Tonight, Chicago's progressives not only forced Rahm Emanuel to become the first mayor in Chicago history to face a primary run-off election, they also beat back his SuperPAC and its corporate funders' efforts to kneecap the Chicago City Council's progressive champions," Jim Dean, Howard's brother and the current head of DFA, said. "Rahm Emanuel and his corporate cronies have awoken a massive grassroots army across the city committed to ending his agenda of privatization, public school closings, and pension cuts."

The bad blood between Dean and Emanuel dates back almost 10 years, as the Chicago Sun-Times reported:

When Emanuel was the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he stuck it to Dean in 2006 – when Dean was the DNC chair. Emanuel  wanted Dean to funnel millions of dollars to help House candidates. Emanuel taunted Dean’s “50 State Strategy” and a leaked story about how little Emanuel thought of Dean found its way into print.

When the two men clashed over strategy and how to allocate resources to defeat Republicans, Emanuel made it clear in no uncertain terms that he did not trust Dean. 

"I know your field plan. It doesn't exist," Emanuel recalled saying. "I've gone around the country with these races. I've seen your people. There's no plan, Howard."

The grudge, apparently, never really went away. In 2014, three years after Emanuel was elected mayor, Dean was asked, yet again, about the divide during an appearance at the University of Chicago. 

"We obviously have a difference of opinion about how you get people elected," Dean said. "When I came to the Democratic National Committee we didn't control the House, the Senate or the presidency. When I left after four years, we controlled the House, the Senate and the presidency. So I would say the results speak for themselves."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjNWJs4E1fc&t=15

Perhaps even more worrisome for Emanuel than having his old rival make his support of Garcia official, the third-place finisher in the race, Willie Wilson, also threw his support behind the challenger Thursday.

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