Rauner Could Be Next Governor of Illinois
BY DAVID S. LEWIS
Got a call recently from a reporter at the Chicago Tribune, and subsequent follow ups. In Chicago magazine, he had read an excerpt from a story I wrote, A Rahm Emanuel Moment: White House Chief of Staff Threatens Food Critic, posted on mt pioneer.com, and as hard copy, in August 2010 when Emanuel was still White House Chief of Staff under Barack Obama—one of the most powerful positions, well, anywhere. Emanuel left the White House after his party lost the House of Representatives to Republicans in 2010, jumping ship, as it were, and is now Mayor of Chicago. President Obama, they say, refused to heed his advice and tack from the far left toward the political center, facing political reality and working with the other party, at least occasionally, as Bill Clinton had done successfully, using the strategy called triangulation.
That Rahm Emanuel Moment took place during the course of a Paradise Valley restaurant review, one that critiqued not only the cuisine but a taste of Emanuel’s notorious behavior—a guy known for profanity laced flashes of anger said to cause even sailors to blush.
On that golden August evening, the evening of my Rahm Emanuel moment (sounds almost spiritual), a stone’s throw from the Yellowstone, I sat on the patio waiting to be seated… On second thought, with so much on my plate at the moment, let’s let Chicago’s Carol Felsenthal tell the story, as she did in her Oct. 2013 article dealing with connections between Chicago political figures, Montana, and the Montana Pioneer. It went like this—
“Searching for other ties between …Rahm Emanuel and the state of Montana,” Felsenthal wrote, “I discovered an article in the September 2010 issue of The Montana Pioneer by food critic David S. Lewis. (Rahm was then still working at the Obama White House.) The headline caught my eye: A Rahm Emanuel Moment: White House Chief of Staff Threatens Food Critic. Lewis describes sitting on the patio of the Paradise Valley Grill [now Yellowstone Valley Lodge] in “a lovely spot,” from which diners look out at fly fishermen ‘anticipat[ing] the day’s final catch…. beneath a panorama that drops gently toward the [river] bank over a vast green plain then rolls skyward in the distance, climbing foothills toward the hovering peaks of the Absarokas.’ The area, Lewis notes, is a favorite of fly fishermen and Montana-second-home celebrities such as Tom Brokaw, Peter Fonda, Robert Redford, Johnny Depp. Lewis observes a man carrying a bottle of red wine entering the patio with ‘his suntan and pearly whites’ and decides the man—in reality Rahm Emanuel—might be Robert Downey, Jr.
For his story, Lewis needs a photo of a bottle of Napa Valley wine—the restaurant’s chef was born and reared in Napa and that region is a huge influence on his cooking. The bottle Rahm carried, which fits the bill, is set down next to him. Lewis discretely—he still hasn’t recognized the man as Rahm—snaps a photo, aiming at the bottle but, by necessity, also at Rahm, who warns Lewis, You better not put that [photo] anywhere, or you’re in big trouble. Lewis, who has finally realized that the man issuing the threat is Rahm Emanuel, writes that the Chief of Staff seems so relaxed in ‘the aura of the mountains and river…[that] even Emanuel seemed to appreciate the folly of his remark…This is, after all, Montana, not Washington DC, or more to the point Chicago.’”
I went on to write, by the way—”What was Rahm going to do, tell Barack Obama on me?”
Having read that account (of my account), the Tribune reporter who called me wanted to know what I knew about Emanuel, and more details about that evening. I told him Rahm was angry, that he turned from jolly and gregarious to, well, Rahm Emanuel. Everything was nice, I told him, then I shot the bottle of wine with Rahm in the frame, and “he threatened me,” I said.
“Join the club,” the reporter quipped. We then had a chuckle, and he told me some Chicago-based I’m Rahm Emanuel and you’re nobody stories.
His real reason for calling though was Emanuel’s connection to part-time Paradise Valley resident Bruce Rauner, former CEO of private equity firm GTCR, current Illinois Republican candidate for Governor, and the guy who helped Emanuel make $18 million (they say) in just a few years when Emanuel had zero business experience.
The thing is, Rauner is a Republican, one who has contributed to Emanuel’s political career, and Emanuel is, of course, a Democrat, and the two are close friends who vacation together at Rauner’s Paradise Valley home (Rauner, by the way, is financially successful, to put it mildly, worth hundreds of millions of dollars). In the Republican primary, Rauner’s support for Emanuel was a potential problem, though he won and now faces incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn in the general election, who Emanuel, as the Democratic Mayor of Chicago, is duty bound to support. Would he, though, not support his good friend and benefactor, Bruce Rauner? This then provides fodder for editorial speculation, which is why I got the call, and the reason for the excerpt in Chicago magazine. It’s the kind of thing reporters can’t resist. The Tribune reporter, though, needed corroboration of a connection between Rauner and Emanuel, and evidence that Rauner and Emanuel vacation together in Montana. As it turned out, searching my files, I had that evidence—an image from that August 2010 evening of Rahm strolling happily down the path to the then PVG, bottle of Napa in hand, Bruce Rauner in tow. The photo will soon run in the Chicago Tribune along with the story.
Tom Brokaw, according to the Chicago article, also seemed to corroborate the Emanuel/Montana connection as he spoke on air in the Windy City, according to Carol Felsenthal, about Emanuel thrashing the river with his fly rod and cursing out our bewildered trout (he threatens trout and food critics).
Felsenthal wrote: “It was Tom Brokaw, who loves to talk about his ranch in Montana—but, then, he’s not running for office—who revealed on-air that Rahm has taken up fly-fishing. The former NBC Nightly News anchorman [and Livingston area resident] came to Chicago in January to moderate…a panel on The Politics of Guns in America… Brokaw stopped at WBEZ and told former Afternoon Shift host Rick Kogan and ESPN.com’s Lester Munson, a ‘personal’ story about Rahm, and chuckled at the utter incongruity of our hyperkinetic mayor partaking of a sport that requires ‘patience, rhythm, and solitude.’ Brokaw described Rahm as ‘thrashing” at the water and swearing at the trout.” ‘Trout,” Brokaw said, “have never heard [such] language as they have from Rahm if they don’t cooperate with him.”