Illinois: Fifth District|
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D)
Last Updated July 14, 2003
Few places in America today have more variety--ethnic and cultural--than the North Side of Chicago. This has been the homeland of one immigrant group after another and the chosen neighborhoods of all manner of successful middle-class people. Wooden workingman's cottages from the late 19th century give way to sturdy huge brick houses of the early 1900s and then to the prairie bungalows of the 1920s and white-shuttered, orange-brick colonials of the 1950s. Chicago was America's number one immigrant destination for Poles, Lithuanians, Czechs, Slovaks, Ukrainians and Romanians; something about the heavy dull clouds of the long winters, the short hot summers, a climate suited to potatoes and cabbage and other hardy vegetables, may have reminded them of central and eastern Europe. By the late 1980s new upwardly mobile immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala, Korea and the Philippines moved in; the 1990s witnessed immigrants from Poland and Ukraine, Pakistan and India. Family ties, webs of acquaintance that reach back to ancestral villages, have made the North Side of Chicago a natural port of entry for Eastern bloc migrants, even as newcomers establish new family ties and webs of relationships extending to Latin America and Southeast Asia.
The 5th Congressional District covers an oddly shaped slice of Chicago's North Side, running from the lakefront to the suburbs directly south of O'Hare Airport. Its boundaries were carefully drawn to put most Hispanics in the 4th District just to the south, but otherwise it reflects the full variety of the North Side. It includes Chicago's most glamorous lakefront apartments facing the Oak Street beach and the gentrified neighborhoods of Old Town, where old houses and factories are being converted into upscale condominiums, and nearby Lincoln Park, which has the highest median household income of Chicago's 77 community areas. It takes in baseball's famed Wrigley Field, the Polish-American and Ukrainian-American neighborhoods around Milwaukee Avenue, and the old Italian neighborhoods running west on Grand Avenue. It includes, a couple of blocks from the Chicago River, the grand old church of St. Stanislaus Kostka--a traditional center of the Polish community since the 19th century but now with Masses in Spanish--and the residence across Pulaski Park of Dan Rostenkowski, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee from 1981 to 1994, for whom the district was originally designed. It reaches the Cook County suburbs, beyond River Grove and Franklin Park into Schiller Park and Northlake. This is a solidly Democratic district; in 2000, Al Gore won here by 66%-34%.
The congressman from the 5th District is Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat elected in 2002 when Rod Blagojevich gave up the seat and ran successfully for governor. It was not apparent in early 2001 that there would be another 5th District: with Blagojevich running for governor, it seemed convenient for the bipartisan redistricters, Speaker Dennis Hastert and 3d District Democrat William Lipinski, to slice up the district. But when the 2000 Census came in, it showed a big population increase in Chicago's immigrant neighborhoods. Mayor Richard M. Daley insisted that Chicago should retain all its districts; the May 2001 plan left the boundaries of the 5th District mostly undisturbed. Emanuel grew up in Chicago, the son of an Israeli immigrant; he graduated from Sarah Lawrence and from Northwestern. He worked on the 1992 Clinton campaign and was a high-level staffer in the Clinton White House, where he gained wide respect for his political savvy but drew criticism, even from allies, for an arrogant and abrasive style. In 1999 he left the White House and returned to Chicago where he made millions as an investment banker. His decision to seek Blagojevich's seat was greeted with disdain by those who had toiled for years in the vineyards of local Chicago politics. His strongest opponent was former state Representative Nancy Kaszak, who lost the 1996 primary to Blagojevich; she portrayed him as an interloper with few ties to the district. But Emanuel had his own local connections. He was endorsed by Daley and by labor unions (despite his support of NAFTA), and he raised large sums--nearly $2 million for the primary--from his extensive Chicago and national Democratic fundraising networks.
Emanuel benefited from controversy two weeks before the primary, when a local Polish-American leader supporting Kaszak charged that Emanuel served in the Israeli army in 1991 during the Gulf War and suggested he had dual loyalties. But the charge was false--Emanuel is a U.S. citizen who volunteered as a civilian at an Israeli supply base--and Kaszak's campaign was thrown off-stride. Emanuel won large majorities on the Lakefront and in Lincoln Park; he won 50%-39%. He carried all of the 13 wards in the district, except for the heavily Polish 30th. In the general election, Emanuel faced a feisty challenger who attacked him as overly ambitious, but Emanuel won 67%-29%. Even before winning the election, he cut an unusually high-profile figure: He strategized for the national party, met with the national media and sought a prime committee assignment. His aggressiveness, political skills and fundraising prowess make him a freshman congressman to watch.
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- Budget (16th of 19 D).
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||Rahm Emanuel (D)
|Mark Augusti (R)
|Frank Gonzalez (Lib)
||Rahm Emanuel (D)
|Nancy Kaszak (D)
|Peter Dagher (D)
||Rod R. Blagojevich (D)
|Matt Beauchamp (Lib)
For 1992 and 1996 presidential results in the Fifth District, please see the Almanac 2000 online. Please note that these older returns reflect district lines as they existed prior to 2002 redistricting.
- Cook Partisan Voting Index: D +16
- District Size: 58 square miles
- Population in 2000: 653,647; 100.0% urban; 0.0% rural
- Median Household Income: $48,531; 8.5% are below the poverty line
- Occupation: 21.5% blue collar; 64.9% white collar; 13.6% gray collar; 6.7% military veterans
- Race/Ethnic Origin:
0.2% Amer. Indian,
2.2% Two+ races,
23.0% Hispanic origin
- Click here for statewide demographic data.
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