Chicago’s black voters key as Garcia battles to defeat Emanuel in mayoral race
By Mary Wisniewski and Tracy Rucinski, Reuters
Mon Mar 2, 2015 7:08am EST
(I)n 2011 majority African-American wards gave overwhelming backing to Emanuel, who was previously President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, some disillusionment has set in since. A persistently high crime rate, the decision to close 50 schools in mostly poor areas, and a sense that Emanuel is out of touch with the community and its problems has hurt him among black voters, some political activists say.
After spending more than $7 million on television ads alone, Emanuel won 45.5 percent of the vote in the first round last Tuesday – the largest tally of the five contenders but short of the 50 percent plus one vote needed to avoid an April 7 run-off.
Emanuel’s backing in predominantly black wards slipped to just 42 percent, from about 59 percent in 2011, according to the Illinois Election Data web site, while Garcia had 26 percent of the votes. The other 32 percent in those wards went to the three other candidates – two blacks and one white – who have now been eliminated from the race, leaving those votes up for grabs.
“Dead even”: New polls show Rahm Emanuel in danger of losing Chicago runoff
by Luke Brinker, Salon
Monday, Mar 2, 2015 12:50 PM EST
One week after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to clear the 50 percent threshold required to avoid an April runoff, new polls find a deadlocked race between Emanuel and progressive challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
Capitalizing on progressive discontent with the mayor’s school closures, privatization schemes, and hostile relationship with organized labor, Garcia has campaigned in the mold of such progressive populists as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He captured 34 percent of the vote last week. Emanuel won just 45 percent, despite a massive campaign war chest and the support of much of the political establishment.
While 55 percent of voters supported candidates other than the first-term incumbent, some analysts have speculated that many cast votes against Emanuel to simply to register a first-round protest. Presented with a choice between Emanuel and Garcia – and after another month of being deluged with Emanuel’s campaign ads – many of those voters will come home for the mayor, the thinking goes. But the latest numbers underscore that an Emanuel victory is far from assured.
The People of Chicago Stun Obama’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Now It’s Round 2
by Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report
“Turnout was near an all time low, but it didn’t matter,” one campaign associate told Black Agenda Report. “The voters who did come out were really motivated,.they know Rahm is an absolute pig.”
“There were also two advisory referenda our forces helped place on the ballot, which brought out the anti-Rahm vote. The first was a citywide vote on taking the big money out of elections, which carried 80%. The second referendum was for Chicago getting an elected school board instead of the mayoral dictatorship the President, privatizers and corporations love so much, that we’ve had since the Daley era. The mayor’s people would not allow a school board vote on the ballot citywide, so the Chicago Teachers Union and their allies in the communities across the city hit the streets and did a ward by ward petition drive, which got it on the ballot in 37 of the city’s 50 wards. This measure got 270,000 to 34,000, almost 9 to 1.”
Rahm Emanuel, called by some “Mayor One Percent” had every conceivable advantage. President Obama cut multiple campaign commercials for him, and made well publicized visits to his campaign offices. Besides millions in cash to spend, he had most of the city’s black and Latino political leaders, including congressmen Bobby Rush and Luis Gutierrez in his kennel. His Hollywood pals did an 8 part CNN mini-series for him by the same folks who did the “Brick City” series to boost the political fortunes of Newark’s Corey Booker. The CNN series broadcast fake stats about Rahm and his top cop bringing down the city’s murder rate, debunked almost immediately by news reports while the series was still being broadcast. And under Rahm and the Daleys, Chicago has expelled roughly as many poor and black residents in the last 20 years as New Orleans after Katrina. The city that elected Harold Washington in 1983 was over 40% black. Today’s Chicago is about 27% African American.
The established neoliberal candidate playbook on winning big city elections is to discourage poorer and left leaning voters from coming out, while spending heavily on media. Thanks to the long term mobilization of the teachers union and many forces across the city, it didn’t work this time.
Rahm Emanuel is also vulnerable for the many, many privatizations, sweetheart deals, and grand thefts he’s helped perpetrate while on the fifth floor. He pretended to “reform” the Daley era deal which gave all the city’s parking spaces to a consortium that appears to include J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi for the next 75 years. If a parking meter breaks or the city decides there’s no need for meters on a particular street, the contract obligates Chicago taxpayers to pay the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi and the other shadowy investors what those meters would have produced for the remainder of the 75year contract. Rahm secretly had the yellow light interval shortened a couple tenths of a second to produce more revenue for the city and the contractors who manage its red light cameras.