Published On: Wed, Apr 8th, 2015

Winning Second Term, Rahm Emanuel Now Must Mend Fences with the Left that Humiliated him

"Chicago, I hear you, " Emanuel said. "I'm proud of what we have accomplished, but I understand the challenges that we face will require me to approach them differently."

Rahm Emanuel kissing wife Amy

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel last night declared victory over his pesky challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, and thanked the voters for giving him a “second term and a second chance, ” CNN reported.

With 75% of the precincts reporting, the incumbent’s win looked to be in the low two-digits: 56 to 44 percent.

“I want to thank you for putting me through my paces. I will be a better mayor because of that, ” Emanuel told the crowd, referring to the month and a half of a runoff election, in which, on occasion, his win, despite his incumbency, seemed iffy.

“Chicago, I hear you, ” Emanuel said. “I’m proud of what we have accomplished, but I understand the challenges that we face will require me to approach them differently.”

Emanuel was not a favorite of the left throughout the campaign, and it looked like the enemies he had made in four years were determined to unseat him, regardless of who would take his place. As if to appease those very real enemies, he read a list of his progressive priorities, including a raise in the minimum wage.

Garcia’s team was promising a victory based on what they described as a unique ground effort, supported by the Chicago Teachers’ Union and progressive groups working to dump Emanuel. But despite all that considerable effort,  turnout was low in Hispanic-majority areas.

The left probably never expected to win the second round. Forcing the mayor into a runoff was a great victory in itself.

“Rahm Emanuel has always been a stealth, below-the-radar corporate sellout, but most people outside of Chicago weren’t following his every move, ” Progressive Change Campaign Committee founder Adam Green said. “It was purely local dissatisfaction that allowed this runoff to happen.”

“First, it’s not over until it’s over, ” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. “Secondly, what’s really important is that Chicagoans put a sitting mayor into a runoff. That’s sending a strong signal that they don’t like and they don’t trust the things the mayor did.”

Part of the problem may be the candidate himself, David A. Graham wrote earlier in the week in The Atlantic. “Garcia has some enthusiastic backers, but much of his broader appeal seems rooted in the fact that he’s not Rahm rather than that he is Chuy. That was enough to push him to 35 percent in the first round, but it doesn’t look like it will be enough to get him over the 50 percent mark in a head-to-head battle. Throughout the campaign, Garcia has been criticized for failing to better define the positive ideas for which he stands, or to define a specific blueprint for how he’d run the city. There’s a wistful note in the voices of some progressives as they imagine what might have happened with a stronger challenger.”

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