Monday, December 26, 2005

The Ghosts of Campaigns(and Contributions) Past

Some pundits have speculated that the primary challenger's name may keep him at bay, but history seems to indicate otherwise. At any rate, much ink has already been spilled over his enigmatic existence, from his familial wealth to Eisendrath's recent tenure at Kendall College. Though he is facing a candidate with a campaign war chest of nearly fourteen million, Eisendrath has not only his own funds, but, perhaps, the sizeable assets of (step) father Lew Manilow. Manilow has made over sixty thousand in reported contributions to Illinois state Democrats, most in the past five years.

One thing that may mar Eisendrath's gubernatorial chances is an eerily similar past undertaking of his: the 1990 primary run against then cong. Sidney Yates. Eisendrath made the inflammatory suggestion that Yates, who was by then 81, was incapacitated by his age. That was, of course, before Eisendrath lost the three way race with not even thirty percent.

Another cross to bear is Manilow's ties to John Schmidt, former primary opponent of (now AG) Lisa Madigan. Manilow made a single contribution of $10,000 to Schmidt's (unsuccessful) 1998 gubernatorial campaign. As the saying goes, if Speaker Madigan(or, shall I say, honorary Blagojevich campaign chairman Madigan) ain't happy...

It seems that Kendall College President Howard Tullman's personal and political ties to Eisendrath brought the other man to the position of Vice President of Academic Affairs at the Chicago school best known for its culinary program. Eisendrath won kudos during his years with online innovator Unext, which did the unthinkable: attracted faculty from (more than) "respectable" institutions(U Chicago, Cornell, some of the Ivies) to teach online courses. The bursting of the internet bubble sent Unext(now the "Cardean Group) belly-up-but not before it attracted Michael Milken's interest.

Eisendrath's unconventional backstory-teacher, corporate exec, federal appointee-and enigmatic qualities-an uphill run against a popular member of congress-are strikingly similar to those of another heretofore little known progressive Chicagoan. Seems to me his name was something like Rod...


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