Rahm Emanuel had everything going for him in his race for a second term as mayor of Chicago.
He was the incumbent in a city that tends to keep its mayors—sometimes for decades.
He had a twelve-to-one fundraising advantage against his closest competitor—and his campaign treasury was constantly being refueled by wealthy out-of-town donors and corporate special-interest groups.
He had the endorsement of his former boss, President Obama, who recorded campaign commercials for Emanuel and who jetted into Chicago just days before Tuesday’s election and appeared at the mayor’s side.
Emanuel had everything—except a sufficient number of votes to avoid an April 7 runoff election that will now become a referendum on policies that have been so friendly to corporate elites that the incumbent has been dubbed “Mayor 1%.”
Emanuel needed another percentage to avoid the runoff—50 percent plus one vote. Under Chicago’s system, all candidates for mayor and for aldermanic seats run on a nonpartisan ballot. If any candidate gets more than 50 percent, she or he is elected outright. If no one gets over 50 percent, the top two finishers in the initial election face one another in a runoff.
A lot of the betting in Chicago was that Emanuel would get his 50-plus-one.
But when the votes were counted, all bets were off.
Emanuel finished first, with 45 percent. But that was far short of the “50-plus-1” mark, so far that the Chicago Sun Times termed the result “a huge embarrassment” for the former White House aide and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair who many see as the most politically-connected mayor in the United States.