Rahm Emanuel seemed to have everything going for him. Sure, he had problems, such as his face-off with the Chicago teacher’s union, his conflict with the black community after closing schools in minority low-income areas and a few issues with his rather …gruff…personality, but his $15 million donations and strong resume seemed to make his re-election likely against Jesus Chuy Garcia.
Now Emanuel, who received 45% of the vote, under the 50% required to avoid a run-off, has to face Jesus again. This Jesus with his mustache and kind gentle manner was born in Mexico, so his name, of course is pronounced “Hey-soos” and his nickname Chuy is pronounced like Han Solo’s sidekick Chewbacca, often referred to as “chewy.” Chuy has a signature mustache and has never been heard to swear. And he got 37% of the vote.
Okay, that’s nice. But Rahm was not only President Obama’s Chief of Staff, but he was called the most influential chief of staff in a generation. He was tough, tenacious, always got what he wanted if he pushed hard enough. Sure he was rumored to be a bit brusque, to call people incessantly in the middle of the night to pressure them to make a decision and even to have sent a dead fish to opponents (okay the fish was wrapped well), but still it’s Rahm! Sure he alienated the Unions, ticked off the black community by closing schools and institutions to cut costs, even though he is supposed to be a Democrat, saw a marked rise in gun violence and a huge government pension deficit. Still it’s Rahm! He’s tough! He’s got to win, right?
I mean, it isn’t like Rahm doesn’t know that he’s abrasive. He told the Wall Street Journal, “They say your greatest strength is your greatest weakness. I’m living proof of that, ” he said, referring to his frank and forthright manner, which he says is just evidence of how much he cares about the issues Chicago faces.
So what’s the deal with this Chewy Jesus guy with the mustache who smiles a lot and never swears? What’s his issue anyway? That he wants to cut Chicago’s unpopular red light cameras? Well, Rahm will get rid of 50 of them and put more cops on the street. So what has Chewy got that Chicagoans might want? Could it boil down to the fact that he’s just …. nice? Easier to deal with? Nah…really? Yeah, really.
Andrew Sharp, Garcia’s campaign manager told the Wall Street Journal, “It’s hard when you’ve run a race that says, ‘I’m Rahm Emanuel, and I’m a tough guy and I’m going to win, ‘ and then you don’t win.”