Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has secured a hard-fought re-election after an historic and surprising runoff challenge from Cook County Commissioner Jesús "Chuy" García.
In a race that saw the incumbent outspend García nearly 6-1, Emanuel won by a 12 percentage point margin. The mayor, in his victory speech, echoed the tone of humility he's employed throughout the runoff.
"To the voters of Chicago, I want to thank you for putting me through my paces," Emanuel said. "I will be a better mayor because of it."
"I hear you on the importance of neighborhood high schools," he added, noting the discontent that voters felt over the closing of 50 public high schools.
García sounded a conciliatory tone in his concession speech.
"We've got some big problems in Chicago," he said. "No matter who is mayor, we've got to work together to solve them."
"We have a debt crisis and a pension crisis," he added, in a campaign where he was knocked by the other side for offering vague revenue and tax proposals, and promising a commission to look into it after the election. "But we have a growth crisis. That means people are not moving here."
New City Council
Emanuel's victory may not come with a mandate, however, as late results show a changing City Council. As of 10:00 pm Tuesday, mayoral allies like Lona Lane (18th), Natashia Holmes (7th), Ray Suarez (22nd), and Mary O'Connor (41st) had been defeated, with a handful more either losing or barely hanging on. In the 45th Ward, Ald. John Arena, a frequent critic of the mayor, looks to have hung on to his seat with heavy backing from the SEIU, in the face of heavy opposition from the Emanuel-allied Chicago Forward PAC.
Turnout was up at around 39 percent - that's about 5-6 points better than the primary.
It was a slow trickle at most polling places this morning. It picked up during the day and it only got stronger later in the afternoon.
Early vote turnout was robust -- a record 140,000. That, and several other factors conspired to affect today's voter turnout.
There were also relatively few election incidents to speak of. A handful of precincts stayed open until 8:00 pm because of judges arriving late.
In one of the more bizarre election-related complaints, a giant inflatable Uncle Sam in the 13th Ward on the south side holding a pro-Emanuel sign was found to violate election law because it was located within 100 yards of a polling place.
The Emanuel campaign held their election night rally at the Plumber's Union Hall on the city's near west side. A crowd of labor and business supporters filled the room, dancing to a live pop and funk band, watching results quickly filter in after 7:00 pm. García held his rally at the UIC Forum on the city's near southwest side and made his concession call to Emanuel at about 8:15 pm.
While it's not clear whether or not this will be his last term, Emanuel sounded as energetic about his position as ever.
"Being mayor of Chicago is the greatest job I've ever had," he said. "It's the best job in the world."