Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not nearly as well-liked as past mayors. In fact, he is the first mayor in Chicago’s history forced into a run-off election instead of winning re-election handily.
With his opponent within single digits in the polls, this mayor is facing the fight of his political life.
At the end of February Emanuel garnered more than 48 percent of the vote in a five-way race for mayor. His next closest opponent, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, only got to 26 percent. But because Rahm didn’t reach that magic 50 percent plus, he is now forced into a run off with Garcia — the first run off in Chicago’s history.
But while Garcia only reached 26 percent the first time around, his poll numbers have surged since the run off was announced. In fact, Chuy is now within a few percentage points of Emanuel.
A recent poll found Emanuel pulling 42.9 percent to Garcia’s 38.5 percent with a margin of error of +/-3.2, putting Garcia nearly within the margin or error.
Rahm Emanuel, Obama former Chief of Staff, had the President’s support not to mention tens of millions more in his campaign coffers than Garcia. But money wasn’t the game changer that many assumed it would be in this election.
Emanuel appears poised to use that huge cash advantage to fund scorched earth-styled TV ads against his resurgent opponent.
Along with his own $30-million campaign warchest, Emanuel is also getting the help of a PAC he set up called Chicago Forward.
Still, many forces have lined up against Emanuel’s re-election, not the least of which is the Chicago Teachers Union. The teachers aren’t the only union that stands against the mayor, though. Emanuel has never been a union favorite and for his re-election the unions were somewhat split over the mayor.
Emanuel also has a problem with the African American vote. Certainly Hispanics favor Garcia. Some election watchers are saying that this race is about to become a race argument, with Emanuel trying to pit the African American vote against the Hispanic vote.
In any case, if Emanuel can’t widen the gap between himself and Garcia he could actually lose this election.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter: @warnerthuston. Email the author at email@example.com.