Emanuel wins mayoral election in veritable landslide

The “Daley Era” in Chicago is coming to an end.

Rahm Emanuel declared victory in Tuesday’s Chicago mayoral race with 55 percent of the vote, preventing a run-off election that several Chicago political pundits predicted because of the five person ballot.

The next closest opponent was Gary Chico with 24 percent.

Emanuel will be Chicago’s 55th mayor and its first Jewish mayor. He will replace Richard M. Daley, who has held the post since 1989 and did not seek a seventh term, on the fifth floor of Chicago’s City Hall.

Emanuel won 40 of the 50 districts, while Chico won the other 10. Turnout was gauged at about 41 percent, some 10 points lower than expected.

The former U.S. Representative for Illinois’ fifth district, Emanuel left his position as President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff last October to enter the race. Emanuel’s replacement on Obama’s staff is William M. Daley, younger brother to Richard M. Daley.

Daley’s father, Richard J. Daley, was an incredibly popular Chicago historical figure, serving as mayor of the Windy City for 21 years, from 1955 to 1976.

Already an accomplished fundraiser who raised money for both the younger Daley and President Bill Clinton, Emanuel shot out to a huge fundraising advantage by raising nearly $13 million, four times that of Chico.

But Emanuel’s rise to the top was hardly a breeze. Emanuel’s eligibility for the election was constantly called into question because he had been residing in Washington, D.C. while renting out his Chicago house.

While Emanuel fiercely maintained his eligibility — pointing to the fact that he left his wife’s wedding dress at the house as a sign of his intentions of living in Chicago — he underwent several hours of questioning.

After the hearing, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners confirmed Emanuel’s eligibility in the election. But in a surprising decision, the Illinois First District Appellate Court reached a decision that Emanuel be removed from the ballot, just days before the ballots were to be printed.

Acting hastily to avoid a serious bump in the election process, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a stay on the decision a day after the appellate court’s ruling, and in a 7-0 unanimous decision overturned the ruling.

Janet Boles, a professor emerita of political science at Marquette, said Emanuel’s victory is somewhat reminiscent of the younger Daley’s.

“Rahm Emanuel continues the tradition of Mayor Daley in several ways,” Boles said. “He enters office with the same kind of name recognition that Mayor Daley enjoyed as a son of the former mayor. He was elected in an election in which race/ethnicity was not a divisive factor, and with three serious opponents, his 55 percent victory is tantamount to a consensus in Chicago politics.”

A number of Marquette students hail from the Chicagoland area, and some are impressed with Emanuel’s resounding victory.

Michael Kunkel, a junior in the College of Business Administration who went to school in Chicago, thinks Emanuel’s strong persona and popular connections played a role in his victory.

Others see Emanuel having a tougher time adjusting to his new powerful position, like Ben Reiser, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences who lived in Chicago.

“I think Emanuel is qualified for the position,” Reiser said. “But I’m unsure of how successful he can be in the demanding Chicago political atmosphere.”