For me there is a phrase I deem more deplorable and un-American than any other; it is ‘professional politician.’ The definition of that phrase alone indemnifies the problems which have destroyed our government. Those who are reelected for multiple terms become self-centered and fail to remember why they succeeded in their first elections. Tuesday Chicago’s mayoral election exemplified the changes not only in America’s demographics, but in an attitude. Although Rahm Emanuel received the most votes to retain his position as mayor of the nation’s third largest city, he has been forced to face a runoff with Cook County Commissioner, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, on April 7.
Rahm Emanuel, the former White House Chief of Staff for nearly two years, was elected as Chicago’s mayor in 2011, capturing 55 percent of the vote. Tuesday he received 45.3 percent, below the 50 percent-plus-one needed to retain his position. There were five names on the ballot. His closest opponent was Garcia with 33.9 percent, which forced the runoff.
This will be the first runoff election in the city’s history. Emmanuel’s campaign staff far outspent the opposition while he feared an anticipated secondary election. He even requested the help of former Chicago resident President Barrack Obama.
Exit polls revealed comments directed at the establishment politician. The overall message was ‘what have you done for me and my people?’
Garcia had been emphatic in his criticism of Emmanuel. He accused the incumbent mayor of catering to special interests, and depicted him as a failure to address the cities high volume of crime and failing educational system. In a post-election speech Garcia said that ‘the people were heard today; those with money and connections to special interests were defeated.’
Early on Tuesday Garcia predicted that he would force the Mayor into a runoff election. When the results were in Emmanuel did not play down Garcia’s victory but praised him as a good man and looked forward to April 7th.
Results from Chicago’s wards revealed the city’s attitude towards the candidates. Wards in the downtown area and just north of the downtown area voted for Emmanuel. However, the turnout was low at 27 percent. Emmanuel won 73 percent of that vote. The major difference was for Garcia. In his home ward, the 22nd, he received 71 percent of the vote and just to the east, the 12th, he won 67 percent. They are both primarily Hispanic.
Although Emmanuel experienced a poor turnout, he continues to have support within the city. He received praise from some who said that he took action others were afraid to take.
John Daly, a Cook County Commissioner said that Emmanuel was ‘a strong leader during difficult times. He remarked that Emmanuel is comparable to his brother and father who spent a combined 43 years serving as Chicago’s mayor. He said that he loves his job and the city.
Garcia was obviously energized. Although he received far less financial support he continued his attacks on the mayor. He labeled Emmanuel ‘mayor 1 percent.’ He told his constituents that they had six weeks of hard work ahead of them and that his opponent’s supporters would throw enormous amounts of money at him.
Is Chicago indicative of the changes within our nation? Will minorities have a greater influence in 2016 than they did in 2012? Will voters shun the establishment and support true change in our nation’s leadership? April 7th may give all Americans an indication regarding the outcome of the general election in 2016.
By James Turnage