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Obama to name Irish-American as new Chief of Staff

William Daley – the brother of retiring Chicago mayor Richard – will succeed Rahm Emanuel, who himself is running in Chicago.

William Daley shakes hands with Barack Obama at a meeting yesterday evening, ahead of his expected appointment tonight.
William Daley shakes hands with Barack Obama at a meeting yesterday evening, ahead of his expected appointment tonight.
Image: Jae C. Hong/AP

A THIRD-GENERATION descendant of Irish famine emigrants has been named as Barack Obama’s new White House Chief of Staff.

William M Daley, whose brother and father (both named Richard) are current and former mayors of Chicago, will be formally named as the White House’s senior administrative officer by Obama at a ceremony this evening, succeeding Rahm Emanuel who stepped down in September.

Daley’s appointment will strengthen the Obama administration’s business credentials; for the last seven years he has been a senior executive at JP Morgan, having previously worked in hedge funds.

He was also commerce secretary to Bill Clinton for the last three years of his presidency, and managed the ill-fated election campaign of Al Gore in November 2000.

Daley’s grandparents, Michael and Lillian, were both the children of Irish families that had fled the country following the famine of the 1840s, and his appointment continues his family’s already proud political tradition: his brother only recently overtook his father as Chicago’s longest-serving mayor, having served for 21 years and eight months.

Ironically, he is most likely to be succeeded by William’s predecessor Emanuel, who is hotly tipped for the mayorship of the city when the election to succeed Richard is held in February. Democrats have held the office since 1931.

Richard Jr has already commended the appointment, saying his brother would bring both private and public sector experience to the role.

Another brother, John, has been the chairman of the Democratic party in the family’s electoral district, the Illinois 11th, since 1980. He succeeded Richard Jr, who in turn succeeded their late father, who died in office in 1974. John is also a former member of both houses of the Illinois state congress.

Daley’s appointment also continues the Chicago stranglehold on the White House; succeeding Emanuel, Daley will be the senior advisor to Obama, an Illinois senator before his election in 2008.

Pete Rouse, who has been interim Chief of Staff since Emanuel’s resignation, is likely to be appointed a senior advisor to Obama, who will also need to find a replacement for his press secretary Robert Gibbs, who is to step aside for private work.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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