— by Jason Attermann
Rahm Emanuel was sworn in today as the first Jewish Mayor of Chicago. He also served in the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Democratic leadership and as White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama.
Rahm Emanuel was born in Chicago, Illinois in November 1959. He received his Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College in 1981 and his Master’s degree in speech and communication from Northwestern University in 1985.
Emanuel’s political involvement began with David Robinson’s 1980 congressional campaign while he was still an undergraduate student. In 1984, he worked on Paul Simon’s U.S. senate campaign.
More after the jump.
Upon graduating from Northwestern, Emanuel worked for the public interest group Illinois Public Action. In 1988, he served as the national campaign director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and in 1989 was a chief fundraiser and senior advisor for Richard M. Daley’s mayoral campaign.
In 1991, Emanuel volunteered with the Israeli Defense Force during the Gulf War as a civilian volunteer. Later that year, he joined President Bill Clinton’s presidential primary campaign as the finance director. Following Clinton’s victory in the general election, he named Emanuel as one of his senior advisors from 1993-1998. Among his many achievements in this role, Emanuel worked to plan the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat in the White House Rose Garden.
Taking a brief respite from politics, Emanuel joined the investment banking firm Wasserstein Perella from 1998 until 2002. In 2002, he succeeded in his bid for the House of Representatives seat representing Illinois’ 5th district. He won re-election in 2004, 2006 and 2008. Following the death of DCCC Chair Bob Matsui in 2005, Emanuel was appointed as head of the DCCC by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. During his tenure, he orchestrated the large Democratic gains made in the 2006 midterm elections. He is credited by many for regaining a Democratic majority in the House for the first time since 1995. In 2007, the House Democratic Caucus elected Emanuel as Chairman for the 110th Congress.
After President Obama’s success in the 2008 presidential election, Emanuel accepted the position of White House Chief of Staff, and resigned his House seat. In a New York Times article, Emanuel was described as “perhaps the most influential White House chief of staff in a generation.” In September 2010, he announced his departure from his White House position in order to pursue the Mayor’s office in Chicago. Emanuel won the election in February 2011. By receiving 55% of the vote against 5 opponents, he avoided a run-off race in April.
Emanuel and his wife Amy Rule have three children, and currently reside in Chicago, Ill.