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Keith Koeneman
Keith Koeneman writes about Chicago history, politics, and culture. He is the author of the upcoming biography of Richard M. Daley, the recently retired Mayor of Chicago. His book, First Son: The Biography of Richard M. Daley, will be published by the University of Chicago Press. Koeneman also teaches and speaks as an expert on Chicago mayoral politics on television and radio. He holds advanced degrees from Harvard, University of Chicago and Northwestern University, and a liberal arts degree from Carleton College. Koeneman lives in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Follow him at, or on twitter @DaleyBiographer.

Entries by Keith Koeneman

Bruce Rauner's Victory: A Break From the Recent Past in Illinois?

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2014 | 6:44 PM

Why is Illinois the worst place to live in America?

In April of this year, Gallup released the results of a national survey in which Illinois was ranked as the state with the highest percentage of residents who believe it is the worst place to live in the...

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Karen Lewis: Will She Give Rahm Emanuel a Real Fight?

(1) Comments | Posted August 20, 2014 | 6:14 PM

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes."

This quote, which is often attributed to the satirist Mark Twain, is worth remembering when considering what a bid by Karen Lewis to replace Rahm Emanuel as mayor of Chicago might look like. One meaning of Twain's...

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Is Nepotism Dying in Illinois?

(5) Comments | Posted July 17, 2013 | 5:47 PM

Nepotism -- when the powerful help their relatives or supporters get ahead regardless of merit -- is an age-old practice in business, politics and even religious life. In fact, the word nepotism derives from the Latin for nephew because of the practice medieval Catholic popes had of appointing nephews, or...

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Race for the Whitehouse: Put Your Money on the Chicago Boys

(2) Comments | Posted October 17, 2012 | 2:51 PM

Sometimes in a tight race, the smart thing to do -- if you are the betting type -- is to simply put your money on the best horse. Right now, the race for the Whitehouse appears to be a dead heat, with a recent Real Clear Politics poll...

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Dancing With the Stars: Rahm and Toni Step to a New Tune in Chicago

(0) Comments | Posted October 12, 2012 | 5:40 PM

Sometimes when you see two people out on the dance floor, it is clear that they are partners. They move in sync, with energy and an unspoken discipline. Well-rehearsed steps are made to look natural and spontaneous. But this is not always the case. Sometimes -- especially on a crowded...

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Obama Got Spanked: The Truth of the First 2012 Presidential Debate

(8) Comments | Posted October 4, 2012 | 3:02 PM

Let's call a spade a spade. The truth of the first 2012 presidential debate is that Barack Obama got spanked by Mitt Romney. This is true whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, a fan of Obama or of Romney. In NFL football terms, it is the...

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Condoleezza Rice Is the Right Choice for Romney's VP

(43) Comments | Posted April 9, 2012 | 11:00 AM

Sometimes conventional wisdom is right, and sometimes it is wrong. In the case of Mitt Romney's selection of a 2012 vice presidential running mate, it may actually be both.

One piece of conventional wisdom circulating right now is that Mitt Romney should not pick a boring white guy as...

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Culture Beat: Chicago Live! and The Paper Machete

(0) Comments | Posted March 5, 2012 | 3:09 PM

As a truly global city, Chicago offers up an almost endless variety of culture. From the high arts to pure entertainment, our city has music, performance, art, culinary and comedy venues for nearly every taste. For those in the know, Chicago also presents an up-to-date live theatre scene that is...

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Royko Is Still the Boss

(2) Comments | Posted February 22, 2012 | 2:21 PM

Paperwork is piled high on my desk, and so I am just now getting around to reviewing Boss by Mike Royko. Published in 1971, Boss tells the stories of Dick Daley, his democratic political machine and the City of Chicago during the 1950s and tumultuous 1960s.

In many ways,...

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Reforming Chicago's City Government

(3) Comments | Posted January 11, 2012 | 12:32 PM

Ever since the late 19th century, the Chicago City Council has tended to suffer from a rather poor reputation: ineffective, low ethical standards, an old boys club. Back then, men such as Alderman "Bathhouse" John Coughlin were known for using their offices to create wealth for themselves, while...

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What Bill Daley's Resignation May Signal for 2012

(7) Comments | Posted January 10, 2012 | 9:58 AM

In politics, as in life, there are usually at least two sides to a story. The resignation today of White House chief of staff Bill Daley is likely to follow this familiar pattern. Supporters of President Obama are apt to describe the resignation as the result of Daley's inability to...

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Pension Reform: Mike Madigan's Last Chance for a Positive Legacy

(2) Comments | Posted November 15, 2011 | 5:33 PM

Mike Madigan has ruled over the Illinois House of Representatives for all but two years since 1983, and what is his legacy? Who has he served? What are his accomplishments? Answers: Nothing, no one, nada.

But perhaps Madigan does not care.

Mike Madigan -- who is nearly 70 years...

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Bill Daley and the Next Race for Governor of Illinois

(12) Comments | Posted November 1, 2011 | 3:48 PM

In their youth, basketball was the favorite sport of some of Chicago's best known politicians, including Barack Obama, Rod Blagojevich and Richard M. Daley. It is unclear whether White House chief of staff Bill Daley possessed the same love of the game as these elected politicos, but it does seem...

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Rahm Emanuel Is Following Daley's Playbook From 1989

(2) Comments | Posted October 19, 2011 | 12:31 PM

I am a fan of the vigorous new mayor of Chicago, but the last five months have given me a certain sense of déjà vu. Watching Rahm Emanuel in office as Chicago's new mayor has been a bit like having the opportunity to see David Copperfield perform magic. The key...

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