February 22, 2011: Rahm Emanuel Elected Chicago’s Next Mayor


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.


Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

Rahm Emanuel, who has worked behind the scenes for other politicians, celebrated his victory in Chicago on Tuesday night.


  • Emanuel’s Win: Voting Stats: Emanuel amassed 55.2 percent with 99.5 percent of city precincts counted, above the 50 percent-plus benchmark he needed to win outright to avoid an April runoff. Gery Chico had 24 percent, with Miguel del Valle at 9.3 percent and Carol Moseley Braun at 9 percent. Two lesser-known candidates, Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins and William “Dock” Walls, received 2.5 percent combined.
    Emanuel won 40 of the city’s 50 wards, getting more than 70 percent of the vote in the heavily populated lakefront wards. Emanuel also won with more than 50 percent of the vote in wards with large African-American populations, racking up margins of at least 2-to-1 over the major black candidate, Braun.
    Chico won the remaining 10 city wards. They were primarily Latino-heavy wards on the Southwest Side, where he was raised, and the West Side. Chico, Daley’s former chief of staff, also won the 19th and 41st wards, both with large populations of police and firefighters, whose unions endorsed him. Still, Chico’s vote advantage over Emanuel in those wards was not significant.
    Turnout was 41 percent, nearly 10 points lower than election officials predicted. – Chicago Tribune, 2-22-11
  • Rahm Emanuel: a visual history Timeline of Rahm Emauel’s life Timeline of Rahm Emauel’s life


  • Chicago’s next mayor: Emanuel Ex-presidential adviser avoids runoff with 55%: Rahm Emanuel, a top adviser to two U.S. presidents who returned to Chicago just months ago, swept into the mayor’s office Tuesday, inheriting a city reeling from recession and promising to reshape City Hall.
    He achieved what was once considered almost unthinkable, collecting a majority of support against five opponents in the first Chicago election without a sitting mayor on the ballot since 1947.
    In a city with its share of racial divisions, Emanuel appealed to voters across those lines. He won the predominantly white wards of his former congressional district on the North and Northwest sides. And the former chief of staff to President Barack Obama also scored substantial margins in predominantly African-American neighborhoods.
    “All I can say, you sure know how to make a guy feel at home,” Emanuel, who faced a high-profile legal challenge to his residency, told a packed room at a plumbers union hall on the Near West Side. “Because of the people of Chicago, this is the warmest place in America.”… – Chicago Tribune, 2-22-11
  • Emanuel beats rivals to become next Chicago mayor: Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, easily overwhelming five rivals to take the helm of the nation’s third-largest city as it prepares to chart a new course without the retiring Richard M. Daley.
    Emanuel trounced all opponents with 55 percent of the vote — a margin that allowed him to avoid an April runoff. He needed more than 50 percent to win outright.
    It was the city’s first mayoral race in more than 60 years without an incumbent on the ballot and the first in more than two decades without Daley among the candidates. Daley and his father have led Chicago for more than 43 out of the last 56 years.
    Emanuel called the victory “humbling” and said the outgoing mayor had “earned a special place in our hearts and our history.”
    But he added: “We have not won anything until a kid can go to school thinking of their studies and not their safety. Until the parent of that child is thinking about their work and not where they are going to find work, we have not won anything.”… – AP, 2-22-11
  • Emanuel Triumphs in Chicago Mayoral Race: Rahm Emanuel, a former congressman who worked for two presidents, was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, marking a new path for a city that has, for 22 years, been led by a singular, powerful force, Richard M. Daley.
    Mr. Emanuel, who will take office in May, won 55 percent of the vote against five other candidates. That allowed him to avoid a one-on-one runoff election in April that had been seen by some opponents as their best chance to defeat Mr. Emanuel. With 95 percent of precincts reporting, his closest competitor, Gery J. Chico, a former chief of staff to Mr. Daley, got 24 percent of the vote.
    “Tonight we are moving forward the only way we truly can — together as one city with one future,” Mr. Emanuel told a crowd at a union hall west of downtown.
    Mr. Emanuel, 51, is known to nearly everyone here — less, perhaps, for his years as a congressman from the North Side than for his ties to President Obama, a fellow Chicagoan whom he served as White House chief of staff. Mr. Obama congratulated Mr. Emanuel on Tuesday evening, saying, “As a Chicagoan and a friend, I couldn’t be prouder.”… – NYT, 2-22-11
  • Emanuel Makes History in Win Succeeding Daley as Chicago Mayor: Rahm Emanuel, the former Chicago congressman who served two Democratic presidents in the White House, won a decisive victory to become his hometown’s next mayor following the two-decade tenure of Richard M. Daley.
    Emanuel captured 55 percent of the vote in a field of six yesterday to take leadership of the third-most populous U.S. city. Chicago’s first Jewish chief executive faces a declining population, city pension shortfalls and a 2012 budget deficit forecast at more than $600 million.
    The mayor-elect, 51, is the first top aide to President Barack Obama elected to office. He overcame a legal challenge to his residency and questions about his Chicago pedigree, and by getting more than 50 percent of the vote, avoided a runoff.
    “Thank you Chicago for this humbling victory,” Emanuel said in a victory speech at a union hall on the city’s west side. “You sure know how to make a guy feel at home.”
    The vote marked the approaching end of 22 years of rule by Daley, 68, who is retiring in May. He and his father, Richard J. Daley, ran Chicago for 43 of the past 55 years…. Bloomberg, 2-22-11
  • Emanuel Wins Election Becoming Chicago’s First Jewish Mayor: Rahm Emanuel won the Chicago mayoral election today in convincing fashion collecting the required 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
    With 85 percent of precincts reporting, Emanuel, the former White House Chief of Staff, garnered close to 55 percent of the vote. Gerry Chico finished with 24 percent of the vote while Miguel Del Valle and Carol Moseley Braun finished third and fourth.
    Emanuel is the first mayor elected in the city since 1989 when Richard Daley began his 20 year run. He is now the first Jewish mayor elected in Chicago’s history.
    Emanuel started his campaign in November after resigning from his post under the Obama Administration. – NewsOne, 2-22-11


  • Rahm Emanuel’s victory speech: Thank you, Chicago, for this humbling victory.
    All I can say, you sure know how to make a guy feel at home.
    What makes this victory most gratifying is that it was built on votes from every corner of the city, from people who believe that a common set of challenges must be met with a common purpose.
    It’s a victory for all those who believe that we can overcome the old divisions and the old ways that have held Chicago back.
    It is easy to find differences, but we can never allow them to become divisions.
    Tonight we are moving forward in the only way we truly can. Together. As one city, with one future.
    And after five months, campaigning across this city and talking to thousands of Chicagoans from every community and every walk of life …
    (Interruption from crowd: “We did it for you!”)
    No, we did it for our city. We did it for our city. We did it for the place we call home.
    I am more convinced than ever that we can meet the great challenges before us.
    I can say that because for all its beauty and bounty, the key to Chicago’s greatness, it is what it’s always been since my grandfather came here in 1917, it’s you. It’s the hard-working, plain-speaking folks who share a love for their city and a determination to keep it strong and to make it a place their children one day can call home.
    I share that love and I am determined with your help to meet our challenges head on and to make a great city even greater.
    Tonight, I congratulate all my opponents and their supporters. I know that they too were driven by their love for our city, Chicago. And are determined to make sure that our city works for all its people. I look forward to drawing on their insights, their energy, their experiences in the years to come, and in the days to come.
    Because while this election was hard-fought, it was only the beginning.
    My sense, and I know it’s your sense, we have not won anything until a kid can go to school thinking of their studies and not their safety. Until that child can go to school thinking of their studies and not their safety, we haven’t won anything. Or until the parent of that child is thinking about their work and not where they’re going to find work, we have not won anything.
    The real work of building a better future begins tonight.
    And I intend to enlist every living one of you, ever one of you in our city, because the plural pronoun “we” is how we’re going to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
    We need safer streets in all our communities, because I do not want to see another child’s name on a memorial killed by gun violence.
    We need stronger neighborhood schools.
    We need our parents involved in their kids’ education and off the sidelines and involved with them, because our teachers cannot do it without the partner in that home.
    The most important door a child walks through is the front door to that home for the education. That is where they learn right from wrong and the value of education. And our teachers in the classroom deserve that partner.
    We need to attract and grow good jobs today and tomorrow. And we need to confront the budget deficit that threatens our future, not by burdening Chicagoans and Chicago families with more taxes they cannot afford, but by reinventing city government so city government works for the taxpayers.
    These are the challenges we need to set Chicago on the right course for the future. With a budget that is balanced and a playing field that is fair. I’m proud that we have never hidden the truth in this campaign. We said it’s time for tough choices because denial in the face of challenge is no strategy for success. But we also told Chicagoans that our fate, our future, is in our hands.
    I just spoke with Mayor Daley.
    (To crowd: “How are ya?”)
    I just gotta tell you, I just saw Lola Parker, who I have seen her son play great basketball at Simeon. She has been my date every Saturday night while Amy and the kids are doing their homework. How are ya?
    I just spoke to Mayor Daley, who proved that the right kind of leadership can make Chicago a world-class city while other cities around us faltered. Nobody has ever loved Chicago more or served it with greater passion or commitment. This city bears his imprint and he has earned a special place in our hearts and our history.
    Tonight, we thank Mayor Daley for a lifetime of service to his beloved city and we wish him and Maggie, Maggie who we all love, all the best in their future.
    Rich Daley is the only mayor a whole generation of Chicagoans has known. And let’s be honest, it’s an impossible act to follow, yet we have to move forward. And we know we face serious new challenges and overcoming them will not be easy. It requires new ideas, cooperation and sacrifice from everyone involved.
    As we move forward to address the great challenges before us, we must make sure every community in Chicago is heard and included and has a chance to participate in that future.
    I look forward to working with tens and thousands of dedicated public servants. Those like my uncle Les, who patrol our streets, who teach our children and fulfill so many vital functions to meet our current challenges and to do it in a way that is fair to them and fair to the taxpayers who pay all of us.
    And while not all the contests are settled, I want to reach out tonight to the members of the next City Council. We have a chance for a new partnership that will serve our city and its taxpayers well. So thank you, Chicago, for this vote of confidence in our future.
    I want to say a special thanks to my family. To Zachariah, Ilana and Leah who have joined me on the campaign in the recent days at churches, L stops, diners and actually calling voters to ask them for a vote. I want to make a special thing to my best friend, my wife Amy. Who has
    My wife Amy, who has kept our family together and who has been our rock through all of this.
    I want to thank my campaign committee, which includes outstanding community leaders like firefighter Annette Holt who gave something back to her city. And Firefighter Pat Kehoe, principals Zipporah Hightower and Kathleen Kennedy-Kartheiser, Community leaders like Juan Rangel, Robert Kohl and Reverend Alvarez and former Rep. Judy Erwin, my dear friend.
    Your faith in me is a huge source of strength.
    I also want to thank the children I met along the way, Jeremy, Martel and DiJuan (spellings unconfirmed), who showed just how important it is that we fight for a better future.
    I also want to thank all the elected officials who are here with us tonight and have been great leaders and friends to our neighborhoods and our city. Secretary of State Jesse White; Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who I started working when I left college with; and Congressman Quigley and all the others who have committed their time and their (inaudible).
    I also want to thank … I have also just talked to President Obama, who sends you his love and affection for his hometown.
    And if I can take a personal moment, during this campaign I’ve been to over 110 L stops around the city.
    (Someone in the crowd said, “You forgot one,” Emanuel responded “That’s surprising to me”).
    Now we are known as the Windy City, we’re known as a cold place in the middle of winter that’s down in your bone. But I can tell you something, having been on every 110 L stops. 110 platforms when it’s 20 below with the wind-chill. Because of the people of Chicago, this is the warmest place in America.
    Now I want you to remember, let’s continue to work together to make sure Chicago remains the greatest city on earth.
    I want to thank you and tomorrow morning, I’m going to see you on that L stop.
    Thank you and God bless you. – Chicago Tribune, 2-22-11
  • President Barack Obama: “As a Chicagoan and a friend, I couldn’t be prouder. Rahm will be a terrific mayor for all the people of Chicago.”
  • Rahm to Obama: I couldn’t have done it without you: Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel turned President Obama’s glowing send-off into a near-endorsement that helped Emanuel claim a majority of the black vote.
    On Tuesday, Emanuel got a congratulatory phone call from his former boss — and he told the crowd at his victory party about it.
    “I also want to thank — and I just talked to President Obama, who sends you his love and affection for his hometown,” Emanuel said as the crowd erupted in applause.
    Emanuel told Obama he couldn’t have won without his help, said David Axelrod, who served with Emanuel in the White House…. – Chicago Sun-Times, 2-22-11


  • Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago: Emanuel’s campaign drew support from each of the city’s main racial and ethnic groups — blacks, whites and Hispanics — and that will benefit him. “He will still have big challenges working with the city council and dealing with the structural deficit, Simpson said. – Bloomberg, 2-22-11
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