It isn't that the mayor of Chicago can't be from New York.
In fact, the city's first and arguably most significant mayor, William B. Ogden — who pushed for a new, disruptive technology called the railroad — was born in New York City, and six of the first 10 Chicago mayors came from New York State, part of the invasion of East Coast sharpies who rushed here to fleece the Indians and make a killing in real estate.
But that was then. The last person elected mayor of Chicago who wasn't also born here was Anton Cermak, an immigrant from Bohemia, in 1931. (Frank Corr, who replaced Cermak for three weeks after his assassination was born in Brooklyn. But he was never elected, nor was Eugene Sawyer, from Alabama, who finished Harold Washington's term).
Being born here matters. Chicago is called a city of neighborhoods, but that is an abbreviation. The full phrase is "Chicago, City of Neighborhoods Where You Don't Belong." So the bar is extra high for Garry McCarthy, the former superintendent of police, who announced last week he is running for mayor of Chicago even though he reveals his Bronx birthplace every time he opens his mouth.
Remember the protracted, almost medieval, debate over whether Rahm Emanuel somehow voided his birth in Chicago by leaving for a few years to serve as chief of staff for the president of the United States? Or the claims that his roots here didn't matter because he contrived to be brought up in Wilmette?
This is not to go all squishy over Rahm (I can't call him "Emanuel," it's awkward, like calling Elvis "Presley"), an unloved and perhaps unlovable figure whose profile has been dirt low since release of the 2015 video of 16 bullets being pumped into the prone figure of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Rahm, who at best was willfully ignorant, fired McCarthy to create the illusion of action.
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