Rahm Emanuel’s Latino Strategy Better Shape Up To Win Chicago

Rahm Emanuel has left the White House and begun to work his way towards the mayor’s office in Chicago. His website is making a very obviously play on his recent experience as President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff in the fact that it looks extremely similar to Obama’s own website design — there’s even an “En Español” section.

So, then, I have to stop and wonder if Emanuel’s Latino strategy in Chicago is going to go the way of his national Latino strategy. You remember that one, don’t you? The no-immigration-reform-until-2013 strategy? This is what was reported about Emanuel’s immigration reform strategy:

“Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, an architect of the Democratic campaign that regained control of the House last year, says his party will not attempt comprehensive immigration reform until at least the second term of a prospective Democratic president.”

Which is a roundabout way of saying that Latinos are not important to your immediate, or even long-term, political goals. It will be interesting to see Emanuel take this strategy to Chicago, which according to the most recent 2009 estimates from the Census, boasts a population where almost 1 in 3 people are Latino. Though the 2010 numbers have not yet been released, in 2009 the city counted about 2.8 million people and about 774,000 of them Latino; that’s 27%.

Now we’ve all bitched and moaned about how Latinos don’t vote, but we’re also very fickle beings, because if you think back to last month, Latinos saved the Democrats, the Senate and Harry Reid. So the point is that Latinos do vote, and they tend to vote Democrat, and there are lots of Latinos in Chicago, and Emanuel hasn’t shown up to now that he cares. Is including a Spanish language portion of your website enough? Taking a cursory look at this “issues” list shows that he pointedly cares about LGBT issues, but doesn’t list any other special interest groups.

I’m not an insider and I don’t know Emanuel’s long-term strategy but I think it would be foolish of him — or any of the other Chicago mayoral contenders — to repeat his immigration reform debacle.

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