Rahm Emanuel, who came in first place among the five candidates running for the Mayor of Chicago, did not win a high enough percentage of voters to gain re-election. He will have to participate in the runoff election that will take place in the spring. He needed 50 percent plus one to win without having to engage in this runoff election, but instead, the mayor won only 45 percent of the vote.
Emanuel had a very large fundraising campaign that was beyond the opponents that were not well known. Additionally, he was endorsed by President Barack Obama. The city of Chicago has not had a runoff for mayor for 16 years.
During Emanuel’s first campaign, his 55 percent vote placed him in office. However, this campaign will be different. Although the city of Chicago is primarily Democratic, the results of this election demonstrated that Emanuel is susceptible to anything that might happen in this new round of elections on April 7.
Emanuel has several issues that are plaguing his administration. The administration upset the community when they closed 50 public schools. These school closings impacted people on the South and West sides.
The approval rating of Emanuel began to slip among Black voters due to the fact that they believed that he was on the side of the wealthier Chicago whites, and ignored the minorities on the cities’ South and West sides. Additionally, the left wing was upset over the school closures, which initiated a teachers’ strike.
Emanuel was given accolades for establishing a longer school day, increasing the minimum wage, and making the train system better. On the other hand, labor unions became upset and have criticized him since the pension system was underfinanced, which is costing the city a lot of money. The growth of the pension liabilities may cause a more piercing strain on financial operations in the future. Presently, the pension program is in the Illinois courts.
Chicago has lost its investors’ rating, which means it will cost the city more money if there is ever a need to borrow in the future. Nevertheless, Emanuel has voiced disagreement with the investors’ decision to lower the city’s credit rating.
Emanuel must run against Chuy Garcia, who came in second place. Garcia was supported by the United Working Families and the Working Family Party. This sweeping change, in the mostly Democratic Chicago, proved that ideas are much more valuable than the power of money. Furthermore, the election made clear, that grass-roots politics is alive and well.
Willie Wilson, a Chicago businessman, reportedly came in third place with a record 10 percent of the vote.
It was reported by Salon that Emanuel does not posture himself as a politician, but someone who has the ability to raise lots of money from high rollers. Evidence of this was apparent when he was the finance director for Bill Clinton in 1992. He coordinated the biggest fundraising venues for the Democratic party. Emanuel, also, was on Goldman’s Sachs’ payroll, however, this issue was never investigated.
There was another contributing factor that may have impacted this election. This time around, there was a lower voter turnout. Consequently, all the candidates will have to put forth a special effort to reconnect with their constituents.
By Marie A. Wakefield
Photo by Jamie Bernstein – Flickr License