Obama closes in on cabinet

Pritzker pass on job, Axelrod signs on
November 20, 2008 3:04:28 PM PST
While the woman who led President-Elect Barack Obama's record-breaking fundraising operation passes on a cabinet position, another Chicagoan signs on as a top advisor.Billionaire Penny Pritzker turned down the job of commerce secretary to concentrate on other business interests in Chicago. The decision allows her to avoid what could have been a nasty confirmation hearing that would've focused on her many business controversies, including the collapse of a Chicago bank she ran with too many sub-prime loans on the books.

However, another Chicagoan, political guru and top Obama strategist David Axelrod is selling his stake in a big consulting firm to avoid any potential conflicts when he becomes Obama's top policy advisor at the White House.

Chicago's pre-eminent political consultant is taking his name of the door at his River North offices, where newspaper headlines show off the wins of some of his most famous clients?Paul Simon, Harold Washington, Rich Daley, Dick Devine and Rahm Emanuel.

Axelrod is one of Obama's most trusted advisors, a confidant, strategist and friend.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity to help someone i really believe in at a time when a country is in desperate need. You just can't say no," said Axelrod.

Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool is one of the many local politicians who won't be able to rely on Axelrod in his next campaigns-- except from a distance.

"David is an institution in this town but he'll still I'm sure take calls from his friends and still be willing to give political advice. Just like he'll continue to root for the cubs, I'm sure he'll be interested in Chicago," said Commissioner Forrest Claypool, (D) Chicago.

Axlerod is a former newspaper reporter from New York City who came to Chicago for college and never left. He's smart, tough, strategic, and occasionally emotional, as he was the night Obama was declared the winner.

"Yeah, I was in tears. I thought it was such a great moment, not just for Barack Obama but it said so much about the country and to be involved in this and to get to that point was just an incredibly emotional and wonderful feeling," said Axelrod.

The die-hard sports fan will have to watch his beloved Chicago Bulls on TV instead of in person. He's a regular at Manny's on Jefferson, and has suggested the owner open a branch near the White House.


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