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Rahm praises Quinn's choice of 'education reformer' Vallas

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday applauded Gov. Pat Quinn for choosing proven “education reformer” Paul Vallas to be his running-mate and said he’s not at all concerned that Vallas could some day run for mayor.

“I supported the governor before he made this decision. I’m going to support the ticket in the upcoming election. And he’s picked somebody [who] has been an education reformer,” the mayor said.

“Paul Vallas has been a leader in Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Bridgeport, Ct. in education reform, bringing both accountability and choice in education. That has been, I think, something that’s been important. And the governor made the decision to pick Paul Vallas based on his record as being a strong advocate for education reform.”

Emanuel was asked whether he’s concerned about Vallas challenging him in a 2015 race for mayor if he and Quinn lose the 2014 race for governor.

“Not until you raised the question did I even think about it. No. I’ve got to be honest. My assumption is that the governor picked Paul Vallas because he assumed he was going to win and make education a big issue,” said Emanuel, who has already raised more than $5 million to scare off possible challengers.

“My concern here is not about my political future….My main concern–what I’ve been doing from Day One and what I’ll be doing every day I wake up–is to make sure that we’re building a new future for the city of Chicago and all the residents that make it up.”

Emanuel and Quinn have had their differences over everything from casino gambling and CTA funding cuts to who will lead the stadium authority that oversees U.S. Cellular Field.

But that didn’t stop the mayor from telling the editorial board at Crain’s Chicago Business last month that he intends to support Quinn, not only in the Democratic primary, where the governor is running unopposed, but in the general election — even if millionaire venture capitalist and longtime Emanuel friend Bruce Rauner emerges as the Republican nominee.

“Pat Quinn is going to be the [Democratic] nominee. I’ll support him,” Crain’s quoted the mayor as saying.

The mayor acknowledged that Rauner is “a friend.” But, he also maintained that the two men “vigorously disagree on policy” and the fundamental role of government.

“He thinks government is the problem,” Crain’s quoted the mayor as saying. “I wouldn’t be talking about [reforming] education and other things if I didn’t think government was the solution. While [Rauner] may be a friend, we disagree. I’m going to support Gov. Quinn for re-election.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard has advanced the Machiavellian theory that Emanuel is trying to help his friend Rauner win the crowded Republican primary for governor by endorsing Quinn.

“Rahm is very smart. He knows he helps Rauner in a Republican primary by strongly endorsing Quinn,” Dillard told the Chicago Sun-Times last month.

As a loyal Democrat, Dillard said Emanuel is always going to pay lip service to the Democratic nominee.

But, he said, “I suspect he’s really rooting for Bruce Rauner. . . . Bruce Rauner is the man who made Rahm Emanuel rich right after he left the Clinton administration. Chicago Magazine just had a story with pictures of the two vacationing together. He’s a member of Rahm Emanuel’s inner circle. . . . That cozy relationship is problematic governmentally. It’s too close for comfort.”

Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf has acknowledged that Rauner and Emanuel are friends, school reform allies and business associates and that their “families are on friendly terms.”

But he scoffed at Dillard’s claim that the mayor was embracing Quinn to help Rauner.

“Bruce is the most fiscally conservative Republican in the race. He’s a committed free-market Republican. It’s no surprise the Democratic mayor of Chicago, who is fiscally much more liberal, would back the Democrat in the race,” Schrimpf said.

Emanuel wasn’t the only Democrat praising the governor’s selection of Vallas. So was Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee and one of Quinn’s biggest financial and political backers.

“I had a long and agreeable relationship with Paul when he worked here in city government. There’s nobody smarter than he is in government. There’s nobody harder working. There’s nobody more dedicated, nobody more honest, nobody more committed to public service,” Burke said.

“He and the governor will be a great team in the general election and they’re going to go on and win.”