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Rahm Emanuel, Joe Berrios Feuding? Cook County Dem Chair Could Be Working Against Rahm

Berrios Rahm

First Posted: 01/05/11 04:10 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:25 PM ET

Rahm Emanuel certainly has his share of powerful friends in Washington. But a Sun-Times report today suggests that he might have one pretty prominent enemy here in Chicago.

Carol Marin's column yesterday described some of the characters in Emanuel's residency rigamarole, including attorney Burt Odelson. Odelson is a longtime election lawyer, a hired gun who has worked with everyone from President Bush and his dimpled chads in Florida to Brian Buchanan, a Joliet plumber running for Will County state's attorney.

He's fought to influence recounts and challenge ballots, keep candidates on the ballot and kick them off. Now, he's the lead crusader against Emanuel's candidacy for Chicago mayor, arguing that his time in D.C. working for the President means that he hasn't been a resident for the year required to run.

But then Marin dropped this tidbit:

Even more interesting, though, was one of the attorneys assisting Odelson. His name is Tom Jaconetty, a $135,000 top aide to recently elected Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios.

Berrios also happens to be the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party.

She goes on to suggest that Berrios might be working against Emanuel because there was some indication that Emanuel backed Berrios's opponent, Forrest Claypool, in November's election for assessor.

Indeed, Greg Hinz at Crain's Chicago Business reported at the time that Emanuel had told supporters at a fundraising dinner to back Claypool in the race. The disclosure led to speculation that, while avoiding a formal endorsement, Emanuel was working behind the scenes to support the candidacy of his longtime friend and political ally Claypool, over the entrenched clout specialist Berrios.

Of course, Jaconetty and Berrios were quick to deny any collusion against Emanuel. They both pointed out that Jaconetty was on personal time, of which he's accumulated plenty in his 29 years as a county employee.

But he coyly refused to answer when asked who was paying his fee to fight Emanuel.

As with so many of these back-room battles, there's no solid proof that Berrios is encouraging Jaconetty to go after Emanuel. But a man as powerful as the newly elected Assessor-cum-party chairman probably wouldn't let a top aide try to take down a guy he was really fond of.

That leads to the question: who does Berrios like for mayor? Or is he a member of the seemingly sizable Legion of Anyone But Rahm?

Either way, Jaconetty and Odelson have struggled thus far, with Emanuel fending off all three legal challenges to his candidacy. And with the less-than-explosive field of challengers in the race, if Emanuel can survive the next round of appeals, he seems poised ascend to an office with even more power than Berrios.

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Filed by Will Guzzardi  |