The Slatest

Rahm Emanuel Faces Historic Chicago Mayoral Runoff

Oh, shoot.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election bid hit a snag Tuesday when he was forced into an April runoff with Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia after failing to win a majority of the vote.

As the Chicago Tribune notes, it is the first time the city has seen a mayoral race go to a runoff.

Though Emanuel finished more than 10 points ahead of the nearest challenger, it’s difficult not to interpret the historic runoff as a defeat of sorts for the notoriously profane former Obama chief of staff, who had a much higher profile and much more money than his lesser-known challengers. More from the Tribune:

With 98 percent of the city’s precincts counted, unofficial results showed Emanuel with 45.4 percent and Cook County commissioner Garcia at 33.9 percent. Businessman Willie Wilson had 10.6 percent, 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti had 7.4 percent and frequent candidate William “Dock” Walls was at 2.8 percent.

Emanuel, who spent millions on TV ads to try to repair his image with voters following a difficult four years, attempted to portray optimism and patience despite the results.

“We have come a long way and we have a little bit further to go. This is the first step in a real important journey in our city,” Emanuel told supporters. “For those who voted for someone else, I hope to earn your confidence and your support in the weeks to come.”

The paper cited the main reasons for Emanuel’s inability to win re-election cleanly as “voter dissatisfaction with Emanuel’s decision to close 50 schools, his standoff with teachers during their 2012 strike and his struggles to tamp down violent crime, which spiked at times the last four years.”

Garcia, a former alderman and state senator who fought to win the backing of Chicago’s progressive liberals, was already out and campaigning again Wednesday morning after four hours of sleep, the Tribune reported, greeting voters outside of an El train stop in the Near North Side of Chicago.

“We were up against huge amounts of money and people with power who lined up to protect the status quo,” said Garcia. “Voters rejected that. They want a deeper debate, and we intend on giving them that. We’re very enthused that the voice of ordinary Chicagoans is being heard and that, as we move forward, it bodes well for Chicago’s democracy.”

Emanuel also campaigned at an El stop Wednesday morning, but the campaign would not notify Tribune reporters in advance where.