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Rahm Emanuel Wins Chicago Mayoral Race, Thanks Voters for a 'Humbling Victory'

4 years ago
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CHICAGO -- Rahm Emanuel decisively won Tuesday's mayoral election, becoming the city's 55th mayor.

With 98 percent of the city precincts reporting, Emanuel had 55 percent of the vote -- enough to avoid a runoff election. His main rivals were Gery Chico, with 24 percent, City Clerk Miguel del Valle, with 9 percent, and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) with 9 percent. Two other candidates also ran.

"Thank you, Chicago, for this humbling victory," Emanuel said. "All I can say is, you sure know how to make a guy feel at home," a wry reference to the residency challenge that at one time threatened to derail his candidacy.

"What makes this victory most gratifying is that it was built on votes from every corner of the city, from people who believe that a common set of challenges must be met with a common purpose," he said during a victory celebration at a union hall, flanked by his wife, Amy, his three children, and his brothers, Hollywood superagent Ari, and Ezekiel, a White House health policy adviser.

Repeating a line from his stump speech about school safety and jobs, Emanuel talked about those challenges.
"We have not won anything until a kid can go to school thinking of their studies and not their safety," Emanuel said. And the "parent of that child is thinking about their work and not where they are going to find work."
President Obama complimented his former chief of staff, saying in a statement: "I want to extend my congratulations to Rahm Emanuel on a well-deserved victory tonight. As a Chicagoan and a friend, I couldn't be prouder. Rahm will be a terrific mayor for all the people of Chicago."

Former White House senior adviser David Axelrod, a longtime Emanuel friend, was at the victory celebration.

"This is a pretty tremendous win. The possibility was always there. I could see it, but I also felt six people in a race, it is very hard to win a clear majority like this," Axelrod said. If no one won more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters would have competed in an April 5 runoff.

Tuesday's election marked a milestone -- Emanuel is the city's first Jewish mayor -- and the end of the long Daley era in Chicago.

The mayoral election season started with a bang on Sept. 7, 2011, when Mayor Richard M. Daley made a bombshell announcement that he would not seek a seventh term.

"The truth is, I have been thinking about this for the past several months. In the end, this is a personal decision, no more, no less," Daley said.

From his perch in the West Wing, Emanuel, who had been coy publicly about his interest in the mayor's job, immediately started to prepare for a run, staying out of the spotlight until he was ready to quit as chief of staff and return to Chicago.

Emanuel departed the White House on Oct. 1 in a lavish East Room ceremony hosted by the president and orchestrated by Emanuel. It was attended by Cabinet members and top Obama administration staffers. Obama spoke warmly about his chief of staff, and Emanuel made radio and television commercials from the event. While Obama never officially made an endorsement, giving Emanuel permission to make extensive use of the material amounted to a defacto endorsement.

For all his meticulous planning, however, Emanuel never considered that his moving to Washington to work for Obama would yield a challenge to his Chicago residency. But it did. He was tossed off the ballot by an Illinois Court of Appeals panel on grounds that he did not meet residency requirements to run for mayor.

But he ultimately survived the challenge -- the Illinois Supreme Court ordered him back on the ballot -- and the pictures and stories of him sitting through a circus-like residency hearing were a turning point in his campaign, portraying the abrasive Emanuel as a sympathetic character.

A prolific fundraiser, Emanuel quickly amassed a huge political war chest after leaving the White House.

He had a running start, transferring $1.1 million from his federal House fund to his city race. Between Oct. 1, when Emanuel quit as chief of staff, through Dec. 31, he raised an additional $10.5 million to Chico's $2.5 million, Braun's $445,760 and del Valle's $111,499. Each has raised more money since then, but nothing close to closing the gap with Emanuel.

Rahm Israel Emanuel, the son of an Israeli immigrant, was born Nov. 29, 1959 in Chicago. His family moved to the North Shore suburb of Wilmette when he was in elementary school. After graduating from New Trier West High School in 1977, Emanuel received an undergraduate degree from Sarah Lawrence in 1981 and a master's from Northwestern University in 1985.

Emanuel won election to the House of Representatives in 2002 with the help of Daley's political foot soldiers. For years Emanuel has been close to the mayor's brother, William Daley, who replaced him as White House chief of staff. And Emanuel has a deep friendship with Axelrod, who was a key strategist for Mayor Daley. Axelrod's former consulting firm made Emanuel's political commercials.

Daley, the city's 54th mayor, first ran for the job in 1983, but lost the Democratic primary to Harold Washington, who went on to become the city's first black mayor.

Daley, then the Cook County State's Attorney, tried again and took office on April 24, 1989 -- Emanuel helped him raise millions of dollars for that campaign. Daley had been reelected ever since, presiding over an increasingly complacent 50-member City Council.

In May, Daley steps down as the city's longest-serving mayor, ruling Chicago from his fifth-floor City Hall office longer than his father, Richard J. Daley.

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February 23 2011 at 3:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dan's comment

Sox won! Sox won! Sox won!

February 23 2011 at 4:46 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Chicago corruption and dirty backroom deals live on. They just don't get it in Chicago. They had a chance to send a message and they blew it. Too bad for Illinois, and too bad for America.

February 23 2011 at 2:57 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

As an ex-Chicagoan now living in a nearby suburb I applaud the election of Rahm Emanuel. SUCH A DEAL!☺

February 23 2011 at 2:51 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply

Sad day for Illinois!

February 23 2011 at 2:29 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
Hello Eileen

I used to live in Naperville and agree that Chicago is a great town. Unfortunately, the criminal element never left with Al Capone. It moved into the mayor's office. For the business community it is great, but it would be of value to know what the graduation rate is for the kids going to the public schools from the inner city. Just what has the Daley machine done for these children.

February 23 2011 at 9:51 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

Dear polishparalt - Sure you want to give up all that Chicago money? Where do you think the bulk of the state's revenue comes from?

February 23 2011 at 9:51 AM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fibroidphia1's comment

...and goes right back to Chicago, along with the bulk of the revenue from the rest of the State as well.

February 23 2011 at 7:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Now tell me why you would donate and then vote for a person who worked in DC and did nothing... I'll tell YOU.. It's politics.. Who better to put in charge then a person who has DC in their pockets....So you see people, it's not your vote that counts, it's the money that is donated to campaign for favors in the end...Think about it.. Why would you donate a dime to a campaign? Why not just let them spend their money on campaigning and then see who wins...It's politics at it's best... If this does not wake up the people nothing will...

February 23 2011 at 9:35 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

Dear citizens of Chicago. Please do the rest of us in downstate Illinois a favor. Secede from the State of Illinois and become the 51st State in the Union. You can call yourselves the State of Corruption. Now, we are stuck with...Pat Quinn ( Chicago machine hack ) as Governor. I thought Blago and Ryan were bad.....oh, brother! Quinn carried exactly 3, yes 3, of the 102 counties in the 2010 election. Problem is he carried C(r)ook County. Thanks for that 66% income tax hike, Mr. Governor! Now another Chicago machine hack to fill the Throne of Daley. Why do we have a pension crisis in the downstate Illinois pension funds? ( Chicago pension funds are seperate...amazing! ) Not because of the teachers, firefighters, cops or other State or downstate employees. Nope, we all paid into that system, by law, out of our checks. The downstate teachers pension is 75% funded by the teachers! Only 25% is funded by the State....which it has failed to fund for years. Not only that, but Springfield has taken that fund, and raided it, leaving lots of I.O.U.'s and nothing else....but amazingly the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund is quite seperate and does not get raided. Now, the politicans are crying "poor" and blaming us for the pension mess. All they did was rob the coffers, talk about being a bandit and getting away with it!Everything wrong with Illinois starts at the Chicago city limits, and then all the carpetbaggers from Chicago who get sent down to Springfield makes sure the rest of us in the State suffer for the Kingdom of Daley. Rahm is just a "Regent of the Throne" until the next generation of Daley comes forward to claim their inheritance....please, Secede. Stand alone, keep your corruption.

February 23 2011 at 9:04 AM Report abuse +65 rate up rate down Reply

Wow... a lot of sour grapes.......I would estimate that of those posting their displeasure, perhaps 2% live in Chicago, or have even visited there.

The truth is, if you knew the city, understood the city, embraced the city.. you would understand why Rahm was elected with the majority he received. Chicago is an amazing and beautiful city. It is built not on the backs but of it's citizens but with their hands. It is adored by it's residents, and with good reason.

Rahm is a native son and fits Chicago. It is not a corrupt city. That is hogwash spewed by those who fantasize that it is the reason the city works. It is a city that works to take care of it's own.

Rahm is to be congratulated for wanting to come home and take the helm and steer his beloved city to more prosperity. The city that is hard by the Great Lake of Michigan, welcomes him. Carl Sandburg called it "the city of big shoulders"........Today they put Rahm Emanuel on those shoulders in celebration. Congratulations!!

February 23 2011 at 8:16 AM Report abuse -85 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to cathcarttwrs's comment

Chicago is built on the backs of all Illinois taxpayers although the corupt Chcago politics runs the entire state. No one has a voice in Illinois unless they live north of I-80. Why? Because Cook and Lake counties have more population than the rest of the state combined. So downstate residents have to live with the same legislation as the politicians decide is good for Chicago. Take the recent income tax hike. The cities and towns of downstate Illinois are not having the financial problems Chcago is having. Yet the people of downstate have to pay the tax increase to bail out Chicago. You don't have to live in Chicago to understand it. It's east to understand that Chicago feeds of thr residents of the rest of state.

February 23 2011 at 9:45 AM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

If Chicago is so "amazing" why has the population decreased? I guess if you are a lover of the corrupt nature of Chicago politics you might find it favorable. The problem with Chicago is the same problem with any big city run by corrupt politicians and those that bow to the alter of Big Government. The economic situation is unsustainable as long as you have corruption and so many people with their hands out. Oh, those that are dependent upon Government are a good voting bloc, but after awhile the dead weight they represent will drive the producers out.

February 23 2011 at 10:03 AM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
Thomas Keller

I lived for a time in a western suburb of Chicago., While not a resident of Chicago I was a resident of Cook County and just couldn't believe how corrupt things were at the city and country level. While I was there, the Daley administration wsa investigated numberous times for corruption, but his foot soldiers were very loyal and never directly tied the mnajor to anything...all he had to say was he did not know what was going on. In Cook county it was the same as nepotism set in with the son of the County Commissioner voted in over a more qualified candidate. From the street, most people are upset with the government there yet the corrupt folks always win the electons. I'm not sure how they do it but they are not called a "Machine" for nothing. This is the organization Obama came out of and why he like his union thugs etc. The most frequent visitors to the White House have been union leaders...he is trying to set up on the National level what works very well in Chicago. When I retired I had to get out of there..we were getting taxed to death and I'm sure there are more taxes coming to pay for union loyalty.

February 23 2011 at 7:51 AM Report abuse +85 rate up rate down Reply

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