Mayor Rahm Emanuel insisted Wednesday he’s “not worried” that Chicago will pay a price for opposing Donald Trump’s candidacy and stripping him of the honorary street sign outside the riverfront high-rise that bears Trump’s name.
But there’s no doubt a Hillary Clinton presidency would have been much better for the city — and the state of Illinois.
As President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff and a onetime top adviser to President Bill Clinton, Emanuel would have had almost at-will access to Clinton and her top advisers should she have won Tuesday’s election.
She didn’t. So for the first time since taking over City Hall, Emanuel will not have a close friend in the White House.
Despite this, “I’m not worried about Donald Trump trying to somehow penalize Chicago,” the mayor said. “I’m not sure that President-elect Trump will listen to me, but I would say that, ‘You are the president for all of America, and that includes the third largest city in the country.’”
For months, Trump has described Chicago as a gang-infested “war zone” that desperately needs a return to the days of stop-and-frisk policing.
Now, Trump also will be in a position to deprive Chicago of the discretionary funding for transportation and other projects that Emanuel has been so successful bringing home to Chicago, including the new Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute on Goose Island.
On Thursday, Emanuel will fly to Washington, D.C., to try to nail down during the closing days of Obama’s administration the $1 billion in funding needed to modernize the CTA’s Red Line and begin engineering work on an extension of the Red Line South to 130th Street.
People close to the mayor, including Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), insist the trip isn’t being sparked by Emanuel trying to get the money in hand before Trump moves in to the White House.
“That was always our goal to try and do it before the Obama administration left office,” O’Connor said. “That’s not because we were afraid that it wouldn’t come to fruition. . . . It’s just that things slow down when new people get in place.”
Unlike Emanuel, many aldermen were battening down the hatches for retribution from Trump. “There’s no love lost between the mayor and the president-elect. I don’t think it’s gonna bode well for Chicago,” said Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus.
State government likely won’t have many friends in the Trump White House, either. Democrats control the General Assembly, and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner — while saying he’d vote for Trump — didn’t publicly campaign for him.
There are no major ties between Trump and prominent Illinois Republicans — many of whom kept their distance during the election.
Top Republicans were very careful with their response to Trump’s stunning win. In a post-election statement about the national and state elections, Rauner didn’t congratulate Trump, or even name him. He instead asked Illinoisans to “come together.”
“This has been a long, grueling campaign cycle, both nationally and locally,” Rauner said. “For the good of the people of Illinois, let’s put the election behind us. Let’s come together and focus on the future and improving the quality of life for every family in our state.”
In Illinois, Clinton beat Trump 55.4 percent to 39.4 percent.
Illinois Republican Senate Leader Christine Radogno — who also didn’t publicly support Trump — said she doesn’t envision a major change for Illinois with a Trump presidency, but said it’s unclear whether his administration will make changes to the Affordable Care Act, which he’s vowed to do.
“Obviously we work closely with the federal government. I think we’ve got a waiver out to CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] for the Medicaid program. I don’t know if a change at the top will have them view that different,” Radogno said.
Rauner in October submitted a Medicaid waiver proposal to the federal government, which would allow the state to improve coordination and would help expand behavioral health and substance abuse treatment. Through the waiver, the state is requesting to use $2.7 billion in federal Medicaid funds that wouldn’t otherwise be offered.
Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, who also didn’t publicly support Trump, said “anything is possible for the party that’s in charge.”
But he urged the state to rally around Trump during a very challenging time. Durkin said he hopes Illinois members of Congress get to know Trump so they can continue advocating for the state.
“Trump is not a person that has been in public office so there’s not a history of any type of working relationship between him and any other member of Congress, at least in Illinois, or members in the Legislature,” Durkin said. “So I hope that they have an open door policy, not just for Republicans, but for Democrats.”