Chicago’s runoff election has been decided with Mayor Rahm Emanuel winning his first re-election bid after losing February’s general, suffering early close returns, and enduring a race that often broke down on racial lines.
Emanuel, President Obama’s one-time Chief of Staff, wasn’t able to meet the 50% threshold for success in the February general election, forcing him into the Windy City’s first ever mayoral runoff election. Emanuel faced Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in a race that pitted the city’s Hispanics against its African Americans.
By early evening on Election Day, the mayor seemed to be in a neck-and-neck race, but it wasn’t long before Emanuel opened up a double-digit lead that never shrank.
Ultimately, despite angering many residents by closing 50 low performing schools–an act that set the city’s powerful teachers union against him–a growing crime and murder rate, and his penchant of hobnobbing with billionaires and flying around the country to raise funds, Emanuel was able to stave off his challenger.
With over 76 percent of the vote counted by 9PM, Emanuel was leading Garcia by well over 50 thousand votes in a 56 percent to 44 percent election. The mayor gave his victory speech just after 9PM.
Jesus Garcia conceded the race around 8:40 PM, but his campaign insisted that they had won a victory of sorts by forcing the mayor to address issues he may never have bothered addressing if he had faced no competition.
Garcia, though, ran a straight-up populist campaign light on details and high on indignation at Emanuel. A typical anti-Rahm feeling was voiced by Slate’s Edward McClelland, who wrote that “Emanuel has not been good for Chicago.”
Early voting numbers were very strong as Election Day neared, causing some to think that turnout might be high on Tuesday. But by Election Day, the turnout wasn’t any higher than past elections.
Chicago election officials estimate turnout at below 30 percent, which is lower than the turnout in the general election that reached to 34 percent. At 42 percent, the turnout was higher back in 2011.
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