• Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media
  • Dialing for dollars is easy for Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Around the time thousands of protesters were demonstrating downtown Wednesday, I was talking with some west-siders who were no less upset about Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to close 54 schools. Two years into the mayor’s first term, they’d already had it with him—a sentiment I’ve encountered with increasing regularity.

Their daydream was that Michelle Obama would come home to lead the city, but in the realm of possibility they weren’t sure who else could seriously challenge Rahm, for one simple reason.

“You’d need lots and lots of money,” as one of the west-siders put it.

It’s not an abstract theory. Mayor Emanuel has alienated a few large swaths of Chicago. His poll numbers have tanked. Other elected officials have begun to question him—openly, no less—and some leading ministers have yearned aloud for a mayor who shows some “heart for the people.” But Emanuel continues to make the kinds of friends who keep on giving.