A veteran political operative who ran a pair of well-run, but losing 2010 campaigns — Dan Hynes for governor and Alexi Gianoulias for the U.S. Senate — will become Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s chief liaison to organized labor, the City Council and Springfield.
Mike Rendina replaces Matt Hynes, Dan’s brother. Hynes, the 43-year-old son of former longtime Cook County Assessor Tom Hynes, is stepping down as Emanuel’s $168,996-a-year director of intergovernmental affairs as Emanuel hunkers down for, what could be a difficult re-election campaign.
“Mike’s career as a fierce advocate for Chicagoans and his relationships in Springfield and City Council make him the perfect addition to our team,” Emanuel was quoted as saying in a news release.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Mike for the past three years, and can’t think of a better person to lead our legislative and labor relations team as we continue our work to promote Chicago priorities.”
Hynes was part of a powerful troika of City Hall decision-makers that includes Chief-of-Staff Lisa Schrader and senior adviser David Spielfogel.
His departure leaves a giant void as the mayor seeks to nail down a police contract, pension deals with police officers and firefighters and crucial votes in the City Council and Illinois General Assembly to pay for it all.
That’s apparently why Hynes left nothing to chance — and convinced the mayor to choose the former campaign manager of his brother’s Democratic primary campaign, which came close to defeating incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn.
Rendina could not be reached for comment. Since 2011, he has served as director of intergovernmental affairs for the Chicago Public Schools.
“Mike is a great choice for the mayor,” Dan Hynes said. “He is so bright, has great political instincts, and is incredibly calm and composed under pressure.”
Giannoulias said: “He’s one of the best in the country at what he does. He’s incredibly intelligent, very hard-working and has the best demeanor of a political manager that I’ve ever seen. He was born to do what he does and the Mayor could not have made a better decision. This is great news for the city.”
Spielfogel is another high-ranking Giannoulias campaign aide who joined Emanuel’s 2011 campaign for mayor just hours after Giannoulias’ conceded the U.S. Senate race to Republican Mark Kirk.
Rendina holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and a masters degree in political management from George Washington University.
His political resume include stints as campaign manager of Bill Foster’s 2008 campaign for Congress, political consultant to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and as a general consultant to the 2011 campaign of Ald. John Arena (45th).
The Arena connection will almost certainly raise eyebrows at City Hall. Arena is one of the mayor’s most vociferous critics and a loyal member of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus that’s a constant thorn in the mayor’s side.
“I would hope that wouldn’t impugn his career moves,” a pleasantly-surprised Arena said when informed of Rendina’s new job.
“It won’t change how we interact. We disagreed on issues with CPS at times. We agreed on `em. He heard what I had to say. He did his job. I did mine. So, I’ll continue to do that and look forward to see him move up that way. Mike’s incredibly intelligent, very competent. He understands city government working at the level that he did at CPS. That’s an incredibly important component in our city right now. Any time I’ve worked with Mike, I always felt he heard what you had to say and was fair-minded.”
Earlier this week, Matt Hynes was asked whether Emanuel intends to use his massive campaign warchest to support aldermen who backed his legislative agenda and run a slate of challengers against those who did not.
“The mayor is gonna be very supportive of a lot of aldermen….He fully believes in standing up with people who stood up with him,” Hynes said.
“We made some very difficult decisions over the last three years, what will be four years. And anybody who knows anything about Rahm Emanuel is that he is a loyal person.”
Matt Hynes said the partnership he has built with the City Council is one of his proudest achievements — even though some aldermen have complained about unreturned phone calls.
“We make sure their call gets returned. If I’m unable to, someone from my team does. I’m sometimes stretched pretty thin. That’s why it’s an office — not one person around here,” he said.
“We value our relationship with the City Council. The mayor was insistent that it become a more collaborative relationship. Even those who are rarely supportive of what the mayor does, we always try to be respectful and listen to what they have to day. We’ve done a good job at that. It’s something I’m very proud of. I don’t think it’s a rubber stamp.”