Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is the new mayor of Chicago, easily claiming victory with 55 percent of the vote.
Emanuel won by more than 50 percent, allowing him to avoid an April runoff.
“Thank you Chicago for this humbling victory,” Emanuel said in his acceptance speech. “All I can say is you sure know how to make a guy feel at home.”
Emanuel’s major competitors, former president of Chicago Public Schools Gery Chico, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and City Clerk Miguel del Valle finished with 24 percent, 9 percent and 9 percent respectively.
Braun’s showing was especially disappointing for many in Chicago’s African-American community. The frustration boiled over for Democratic State Sen. Rickey Hendon, who said he will step down after serving 18 years in the state legislature out of anger.
“Tuesday was a Black political disaster! I can’t take it anymore,” Hendon said in a text message to NBC Chicago.
But Braun may have lost in part because her campaign may have been too aggressive in courting the Black vote. Rep. Danny Davis, (D-Ill.), who dropped out of the race after Braun won the support of the African-American community, recorded a campaign ad for Braun calling any African-American choosing not to vote for Braun an infidel.
“I remember two principles of liberation and self-determination that my parents taught,” Davis said. “My mother often told us that it is a poor dog that would not wag its own tail. My father would tell us that the bible says any man that would not support his own house is worse than an infidel.
“In honor of my parents during Black History Month, I’m voting for Carol Moseley Braun for mayor,” he continued.
One very prominent African-American from Chicago is happy with Emanuel’s win, however, as President Obama issued a statement praising his former top aide.
“I want to extend my congratulations to Rahm Emanuel on a well-deserved victory tonight,” Obama said. “As a Chicagoan and a friend, I couldn’t be prouder. Rahm will be a terrific mayor for all the people of Chicago.”
Once the euphoria of the election win fades, the task of turning the city around will not be easy. Emanuel inherits a city besieged with fiscal woes and severe gang violence. The new mayor in recognizing his challenges said he has a lot of work to do before Chicago is back where he wants it to be.
“We have not won anything until a kid can go to school thinking of their studies and not their safety,” Emanuel said in his speech. “Until that child can go to school thinking of their studies and not their safety, we haven’t won anything.”
Emanuel will replace six-term Mayor Richard Daley, who is retiring. Daley’s wife is ill and he decided not to seek re-election.