Too often, candidates run for office promising one thing and deliver another, alienating or simply disaffecting voters, and ultimately losing their offices. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces a different sort of challenge: For the most part, he's given voters what he said he would. Now, do they want to keep it?
He'll find out Tuesday, when Windy City voters go to the polls in a mayoral election. Emanuel has mounted an extremely expensive, high-powered push to get past 50 percent of the vote—the threshold he needs to win reelection outright and avoid an April 7 runoff. The X-factor in the race seems to be black voters, so Emanuel has rolled out endorsements from high-profile African American politicians, including his former boss President Obama and Representative Bobby Rush, the only man to ever beat Obama in an election.
A Chicago Tribune poll last week showed that Emanuel was within striking distance of an outright majority, with 45 percent of voters backing him, and nearly 20 percent undecided. Emanuel's top opponent is Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia; other challengers include Alderman Bob Fioretti and businessman Willie Wilson.
It's been a rambunctious four years for Emanuel. After an election campaign in which he was nearly disqualified under residency requirements, the former U.S. representative and White House chief of staff cruised to victory. Since then, Emanuel has closed almost 50 schools; dealt with a strike by public-school teachers; passed an austerity budget for the city; and faced a significant murder rate. The bruising term has turned some voters off, especially after 22 years in which the city was led by the same man, Richard Daley. But in many ways, Emanuel has done just what he said he would, bringing his brusque, no-nonsense approach to the mayorship.