Rahmbo forced into runoff in Chicago

Four years ago, former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel breezed to victory in the Chicago mayor's race. He was the golden boy of Democratic politics, mentioned in some party circles as a possible presidential candidate in 2016.

Yesterday, the incumbent mayor was humiliated by failing to receive a majority of the votes against 4 relative unknowns. The result forces an April 7 runoff where he is still expected to win handily, but is now considered damaged goods.

His downfall? Persistent violence and a pension shortfall threatening to bankrupt the city.

Bloomberg:

“We have come a long way and we have a little bit further to go,” Emanuel told supporters at a West Side union hall, his voice raspy from campaigning. “We will get back out there, talking to our friends and families and neighbors as they make a critical choice about who has the strength, who has the leadership, who has the ideas to move this great city forward.”

Governing Chicago has proven to be a daunting challenge. While Emanuel won the endorsements of much of the city’s establishment, including his predecessor, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and former boss, President Barack Obama, his standing was weakened in black neighborhoods. Residents there said the 2013 closing of 50 public schools and persistent violent crime supported their complaint of “two Chicagos.”

Garcia’s supporters didn’t expect to win Tuesday, angling instead for the runoff. Many wore buttons reading “April 7 Chicago is Chuy Country” with a drawing of the candidate’s large black mustache.

Eric Russell, a 50-year-old insurance agent who lives in the South Shore neighborhood, said at Garcia’s party that anger over inequality propelled the effort.

“It was really the haves versus the have-nots,” Russell said. “That’s really why a lot of us gravitated toward his campaign.”

David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, said that running a city represented a new and difficult test for Emanuel.

“Being a chief of staff in Washington and being a member of Congress, those are really different skill sets than what a mayor has to have,” Yepsen said. “These jobs that mayors and governors have today are very difficult and they chew up the best people, and Rahm Emanuel is finding that out.”

Chicago is in deep, deep trouble and everyone knows it. Moody's has lowered the city's credit rating to just about junk. Taxes have to go up due to the $600 million the city owes their municipal union pension funds this year alone. The murder rate shot up 13% and higher in some neighborhoods.

Black citizens are angry at that, and the closing of 50 public schools to help cover the staggering $1 billion shortfall in the school budget. Hispanics are angry too, plus they got behind Cook County Commissioner "Chuy" Garcia who had little money, less name recognition, but still managed to get 33% of the vote.

Emanuel governed in a high handed manner, dismissing critics while cultivating Chicago's elite. No matter the margin of victory in April, Emanuel will be a chastened, politician, weaker and, one hopes, wiser.

Four years ago, former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel breezed to victory in the Chicago mayor's race. He was the golden boy of Democratic politics, mentioned in some party circles as a possible presidential candidate in 2016.

Yesterday, the incumbent mayor was humiliated by failing to receive a majority of the votes against 4 relative unknowns. The result forces an April 7 runoff where he is still expected to win handily, but is now considered damaged goods.

His downfall? Persistent violence and a pension shortfall threatening to bankrupt the city.

Bloomberg:

“We have come a long way and we have a little bit further to go,” Emanuel told supporters at a West Side union hall, his voice raspy from campaigning. “We will get back out there, talking to our friends and families and neighbors as they make a critical choice about who has the strength, who has the leadership, who has the ideas to move this great city forward.”

Governing Chicago has proven to be a daunting challenge. While Emanuel won the endorsements of much of the city’s establishment, including his predecessor, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and former boss, President Barack Obama, his standing was weakened in black neighborhoods. Residents there said the 2013 closing of 50 public schools and persistent violent crime supported their complaint of “two Chicagos.”

Garcia’s supporters didn’t expect to win Tuesday, angling instead for the runoff. Many wore buttons reading “April 7 Chicago is Chuy Country” with a drawing of the candidate’s large black mustache.

Eric Russell, a 50-year-old insurance agent who lives in the South Shore neighborhood, said at Garcia’s party that anger over inequality propelled the effort.

“It was really the haves versus the have-nots,” Russell said. “That’s really why a lot of us gravitated toward his campaign.”

David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, said that running a city represented a new and difficult test for Emanuel.

“Being a chief of staff in Washington and being a member of Congress, those are really different skill sets than what a mayor has to have,” Yepsen said. “These jobs that mayors and governors have today are very difficult and they chew up the best people, and Rahm Emanuel is finding that out.”

Chicago is in deep, deep trouble and everyone knows it. Moody's has lowered the city's credit rating to just about junk. Taxes have to go up due to the $600 million the city owes their municipal union pension funds this year alone. The murder rate shot up 13% and higher in some neighborhoods.

Black citizens are angry at that, and the closing of 50 public schools to help cover the staggering $1 billion shortfall in the school budget. Hispanics are angry too, plus they got behind Cook County Commissioner "Chuy" Garcia who had little money, less name recognition, but still managed to get 33% of the vote.

Emanuel governed in a high handed manner, dismissing critics while cultivating Chicago's elite. No matter the margin of victory in April, Emanuel will be a chastened, politician, weaker and, one hopes, wiser.