[Looking to local Chicago news to tell us about the election? Hey try London instead. The Guardian gives at least a context within which the campaign was fought — bankrupt cities and rapidly expanding poverty. Look to Indymedia to paint Rahm in the darkest hues possible: Voldemort has arisen from Azkhaban. — Lew Rosenbaum]
Rahm Emanuel elected mayor of Chicago
Emanuel, the former aide to Barack Obama, needed to win the race by 50% or more to avoid a run-off election which he has done easily, overwhelming five rivals to take the helm of the third-largest US city
- Paul Harris in New York
- guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 23 February 2011 03.20 GMT
With 88% of precincts reporting in America’s third largest city, Emanuel had a commanding leading of 55%; a long way ahead of his nearest rival, former Chicago schools president Gery Chico, on 24%.
Emanuel needed to win the race by 50% or more to avoid a run-off election and capture City Hall at his first try. He has now done that easily, despite the election for the mayor’s office once being seen as the most open and competitive in a generation.
“Thank you Chicago for this humbling victory,” a smiling Emanuel told supporters at his victory rally in the city. “You sure know how to make a guy feel at home.
“It is easy to find differences, but we can never allow them to become divisions. Tonight we are moving forward in the only way we truly can. Together. As one city, with one future.
“It’s you. It’s the hard-working, plain-speaking folks who share a love for their city and a determination to keep it strong. I share that love and I am determined with your help to meet our challenges head on and to make a great city even greater.”
Chicago’s political machinery is notorious within American politics and this last race was the first in 64 years not to feature an incumbent candidate. Since 1989 the spot was held by Emanuel’s predecessor Richard M. Daley, who never faced a serious challenge and was known as “King Richard”.
But Emanuel’s seeming outsider status ignored the well-funded campaign that he ran with his war chest dwarfing those of his rivals.
It also showed the benefits of Emanuel’s time as President Barack Obama’s chief-of-staff in Washington where he gained national prominence on the back of an image as a tough-talking and foul-mouthed operative who rarely took prisoners.
That reputation was hardly a disadvantage in Chicago where rough and tumble politics define the local political landscape. Indeed the main threat to Emanuel’s victory during the campaign came not from any candidate at the ballot box but from a protracted legal fight aimed at proving he did not have the right residency qualifications for the race.
Emanuel eventually triumphed in court but only after an appeal.
Emanuel, who is a former Congressman from the city and a native Chicagoan, has often said that the chance to become mayor was a “dream job” and the only reason he would leave the White House. But now, faced with the realities of wielding civic power in one of America’s biggest cities, he may be wondering at his choice of words.
Across America local governments are facing deep budget cuts in the wake of the Great Recession. Chicago is no exception. City finances are stretched and ways of raising fresh revenue are being squeezed. There is a projected shortfall in the city budget of some one billion dollars and an unemployment rate of almost 9%. Chicago’s police force is also stretched and short of funds and there is also a serious crime problem, especially in the city’s traditionally black South Side neighbourhoods.
And from Indymedia:
Voldemort Elected Mayor of Chicago
Emanuel’s political career is rife with controversy, conflicts of interests, and corporate kowtowing. He worked as a consultant to Richard M. Daley (whom he’s succeeding as mayor) while illegally consulting for bond firms which did business with the city. He joined the Bill Clinton campaign and served as arm-twister-in-chief to marshall Democrats’ votes in 1993 to approve the controversial NAFTA treaty.
Emanuel called Clinton’s welfare “reform” efforts “the most successful social policy experiment in a generation” (meanwhile, child poverty in the USA has climbed to 22% by 2010). He left the Clinton administration to become an investment banker and vice-chair of the Chicago Housing Authority, during which time he contributed to the CHA’s controversial Plan for Transformation, demolishing public housing structures without replacing them.
Emanuel ran for Congress in 2002, vying for the seat previously held by Rod Blagojevich, and won the seat courtesy of the illegal efforts of city water workers whose boss plead guilty to bribery charges. In Congress, Emanuel orchestrated opposition against progressive Democratic candidates, admitted to a pro-Iraq-war stance even without evidence, and accumulated a massive bankroll as the largest recipient among U.S. House representatives of donations from the financial services industry.
Emanuel was plucked from Congress in 2008 to serve as President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, during which time he tried to stymie Obama’s modest health care reform plan, attacked liberal Democrats critical of Obama’s lukewarm efforts, and criticized organized labor.
In his bid for Mayor of Chicago, Emanuel falsely claimed high results from Chicago charter schools, received considerable campaign contributions from the financial sector, and has ties to the firm that won Chicago’s controversial parking meter lease.
Emanuel all but echoes Daley’s opposition to antiwar and grassroots activists, privatization of Chicago public resources, and ties to big business. And with Chicago still America’s largest city without mayoral term limits, Chicago could well face more of the same policies from The Fifth Floor for quite some time.
Past Indymedia coverage: Local war-mongering anti-immigrant NAFTA-pusher named White House Chief of Staff | Illinois Occupation Project: 2 arrested at office of Rahm Emanuel | Chicago Independent Television: Video of 2008 Protest at Rahm Emanuel’s office
Here are some additional electoral articles: