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Chief Campaign Strategist
With a consistent vision, steady hand, and a great ground game, Obama’s message man with the disarming hangdog expression may have dealt a mortal blow to the Atwater/Rove school of campaigning on fear and divisiveness.
JESSE JACKSON JR.
South Side Congressman
As national cochair of the Obama campaign, Jackson was put in an awkward position when tensions between the Reverend and the candidate became public spectacle. He finessed the moment, effectively stepping out of the old man’s shadow for good, and after the election emerged as a top pick for Obama’s vacated Senate seat. Now, he might finally get that airport built in Peotone.
New White House chief of staff
For all the talk of his take-no-prisoners style, the man pulled off one of the most delicate operations in campaign history: walking a neutral tightrope between Hillary and Barack. Some onlookers found Rahmbo a surprising pick for chief of staff given Obama’s reputed disdain for hysterics; but perhaps Emanuel will function as the president’s id—finally unleashed.
Senior campaign adviser
The original FOB, Jarrett emerged from the campaign as a steely and sphinxlike spokesperson for the transition effort. During the campaign no one had been able to say exactly what she did except: Be There.
Long a metaphor for marginalized politics, geeky residents, and zero nightlife, now the neighborhood basks in the world’s attention as the stomping grounds of 44. Can a bump in home prices and a few good restaurants be far behind? The Obama residence near the corner of South Greenwood Avenue and East Hyde Park Boulevard (actually in Kenwood, but who’s counting?) brought police blockades—and instant cred.
CHICAGO'S OLYMPICS BID
The hometown of a man widely acclaimed overseas; a huge, sweet, logistically flawless election-night celebration in Grant Park witnessed around the world—in the curious logic of the International Olympic Committee, those things are said to count. Can Madrid, Rio, or Tokyo top them before decision day next October?
National finance director
Obama’s chief fundraiser helped her boss bring “The Change We Need”—and we’re not talking chump change. A campaign rookie, Pritzker headed an operation that smashed all political fundraising records—raking in $640 million and leaving Hillary and McCain’s campaigns in the dust. Of course, but for the campaign finance laws, the billionaire Hyatt Hotel heiress could’ve saved herself a lot of work and just written Obama one big check.
Professor of education
From an obscure academic at UIC to the world’s most notorious washed-up terrorist—all the fame a baby boomer could dream of. What’s next? A talk show with Joe the Plumber?
Photography: (Axelrod) Chicago Tribune photo by Chris Walker, (Emanuel) Chicago Tribune photo by Heather Stone, (Jarrett) Chicago Tribune photo by Zbigniew Bzdak, (Obama residence) Peter Barreras/Newscom, (Pritzker) Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/MCT/Newscom, (Ayers) Chicago Tribune photo by Candice C. Cusic