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Rahm Emanuel wins second term as Chicago mayor: Former Obama aide beats Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia

Emanuel's run-off with fellow Democrat Garcia was the first of its kind in two decades

Tim Walker
Wednesday 08 April 2015 19:09 BST
Rahm Emanuel and his wife Amy Rule celebrate winning his second term as Chicago mayor
Rahm Emanuel and his wife Amy Rule celebrate winning his second term as Chicago mayor (Getty Images)

Rahm Emanuel has won a second term as Mayor of Chicago, after a hotly contested run-off battle with his fellow Democrat, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Mr Emanuel, 55, a former US congressman who served as President Barack Obama’s first White House Chief of Staff, was originally elected to run America’s third-largest city in a 2011 landslide. But he imported his famously no-nonsense management style from Washington DC to Chicago City Hall, winning as many enemies as friends in political circles and among the public.

Under Mr Emanuel, Chicago has continued to suffer from an epidemic of violent crime. Though the murder rate dropped in 2014, it has leapt up again this year, with the Chicago Police Department reporting 80 murders and 355 shootings in the first quarter of 2015. The city also faces a crippling pensions crisis.

Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia concedes defeat in Chicago (AP)

After he failed to win a 50 per cent majority of the vote in a race with four other Democrat candidates in February, Mr Emanuel squared off against Mr Garcia, the Cook County Commissioner, in the first such runoff since the city changed its electoral system two decades ago.

A former community organiser who claimed the mayor was out of touch with ordinary voters, Mr Garcia ran to Mr Emanuel’s left, garnering support from unions and teachers outraged by the closure of 50 struggling schools – a bid by Mr Emanuel to address the city’s $300m (£200m) budget shortfall.

During the six-week runoff campaign, Mr Emanuel vastly outspent his opponent, and received support from Mr Obama, a Chicago voter, who cast a ballot in his former aide’s favour.

Last night, Mr Emanuel looked to have won the race by 56 per cent to Mr Garcia’s 44 per cent.

“To all the voters, I want to thank you for putting me through my paces,” the mayor told supporters at a victory rally following the results. “I will be a better mayor because of that.”

Mr Emanuel, who also served in the Clinton White House, said: “I have had the good fortune to serve two presidents, [and been] elected to congress, but being mayor of the city of Chicago is the greatest job I’ve ever had. I’m humbled at the opportunity to serve you... for the next four years.”

He also warned, however, that “in an era of hard choices, I can’t promise that everyone will be pleased with every decision.”

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