With no high-profile challengers, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel looks like he is shadowboxing furiously against the dreaded specter of a possible runoff in the spring. With a war chest loaded with nine times more dollars in it than any of his challengers, incessant television and radio ads, an endorsement from the Prez and former boss Barack Obama and endless debates, one wonders why Rahm Emanuel is dancing as fast as he can. The simple answer might be to avoid the politically embarrassing and inconvenient runoff election if he fails to garner the majority of the vote.
According to the latest polls Emanuel is at 42%, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia is at 18%, Bob Fioretti at 10% and Willie Wilson is at 7%. Emanuel’s Achilles heel is the school system, which faced a 2012 teachers strike and closures. Karen Lewis, Chicago Teachers Union President, would have been a strong contender for Rahm, but she had to drop out of the race when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
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With less than a month until the fateful February 24th election day, Rahm has to get the numbers up to avoid a runoff. Even one of his supporters, Democratic State Senator John Cullerton told Peoria Public Radio that he thinks a run-off is more than likely. “Well, I assume it’s very close to being a run-off because there’s so many candidates .” However, Cullerton praised Emanuel for how well he works with state lawmakers, “He’s masterful in terms of working with legislatures.”