Godfather Fails in Chicago: Rahm Emanuel Headed to Runoff Despite Obama Backing

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green,File
AP Photo/M. Spencer Green
Washington, DC

Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s mayor and President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, failed to win re-election on Tuesday in the Democratic primary—and will head to a runoff—a major embarrassment and defeat for the cutthroat Democrat and for Obama himself.

“Despite a multi-million-dollar ad campaign and a last-minute boost from President Barack Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fell short of an outright win in his reelection bid Tuesday, emerging ahead of a five-candidate field but without the majority support he needed to avoid an April 7 runoff against Cook County Commissioner Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia,” Politico wrote in a breaking news alert late Tuesday night. “The Associated Press projected that Emanuel, Obama’s former White House chief of staff, will not win a majority of the vote. He currently leads Garcia, 45 percent to 34 percent, with 84 percent of precincts reporting.”

Garcia forcing this race into a runoff is a massive indictment of the president’s standing in the biggest city of the state he represented in the U.S. Senate. It is also the latest breakdown of the Chicago political machine, coming after Republican Bruce Rauner won the governor’s race in Illinois this past fall.

“This win proves that a movement of people like you can beat a political machine backed by billion-dollar corporations. On to April 7th,” Garcia, the Democrat who forced Emanuel into the runoff, tweeted on Tuesday night.

It remains to be seen what will happen in the runoff, but Emanuel could be in serious trouble if each of the other candidates in the race throws their weight to Garcia. “Trailing Garcia is businessman Willie Wilson in third with 10 percent, Alderman Robert Fioretti in fourth with 7 percent and William ‘Dock’ Walls was in last with 3 percent,” the Chicago affiliate of CBS News reported.

That’s a total of 20 percent of all the rest of the vote, which–if it all went to Garcia–would mean the president’s former chief of staff would lose the election 54 percent to 45 percent.