Mayor Emanuel Re-Elected In Chicago, Retains Black Support

April 8, 2015  |  

It was a hard-fought campaign, but Rahm Emanuel has been reelected as mayor of Chicago. It was thought African-American voters in the city would abandon Emanuel and many wondered if he would still prevail.

But on Tuesday he defeated Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in what has been called the “most contentious Chicago mayoral race in a quarter-century.”

Emanuel had to face Garcia in the runoff election after he failed to win a majority of the vote. This was the first mayoral runoff in Chicago since the city switched to the current non-partisan election format in 1995.

But in the end Emanuel was victorious taking a 56 percent-to-44 percent lead over Garcia with 86 percent of the precincts reporting, writes USA Today. Garcia conceded defeat.

“In an era of hard choices, I can’t promise that everyone will be pleased with every decision,” Emanuel said in his victory speech. “But the challenges we face, we face as one community, one city, one voice, where every voice counts.”

Even though Garcia was gaining popularity among Blacks and Hispanics in the city, he had several obstacles to overcome, including competing against the $23 million Emanuel raised for his campaign. Garcia also had to contend with a barrage of negative advertising portraying Garcia as an inexperienced politician who would not be able to solve Chicago’s slew of problems.

Garcia was also criticized for his lackluster debate performances.

Emanuel ran on his successes, such as his plan to offer free community college to any student in Chicago Public Schools that earns at least a “B” average.

Besides education, another key issue for Chicagoans was crime and violence. Emanuel portrayed himself as the only candidate tough enough to tackle this growing problem.

And while it was predicted that Garcia was drawing some Blacks away from Emanuel, he was having difficulty uniting the African-American and Hispanic communities in Chicago, which may have proven to be his downfall.

“I’m voting,” as one African-American voter told The New York Times. “But I ain’t voting for no Chuy. I ain’t voting for a Mexican.”

Obviously, Garcia’s plan to build a coalition of white liberals, Blacks, and Latinos was not as successful as he had hoped. According to a pre-election Chicago Tribune poll, Emanuel had large margins among white voters as well as a nearly two-to-one margin among Black voters, 53 percent to 28 percent.

Many African Americans worried about losing jobs to Latinos. They were also concerned with the struggling public school system and deteriorating neighborhoods.

“Chicago has long been a place of Balkanized ethnic politics. The city’s Latino population has exploded in the last few decades and some have ascended to political power. In 1980, 14 percent of Chicago’s population was Hispanic; by 2010, it had grown to close to 30 percent. But that expansion may have led to more tensions,” reports the Times.

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