Chicago mayoral race


Rahm Emanuel handily won the Chicago mayoral election today, getting more than the “50 percent plus one vote” needed to avoid an April 5 runoff election.

With 98 percent of Chicago precincts reporting at 10 p.m., Emanuel leads with 55.1 percent, followed by Gery Chico with 24.1 percent, Miguel del Valle with 9.3 percent, Carol Moseley Braun with 8.9 percent, Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins with 1.6 percent, and William “Dock” Walls with 0.9 percent.

Personally, I’m glad Emanuel won as big as he did. Before any votes were even cast, it was obvious that Emanuel was destined to succeed Richard M. Daley as mayor of Chicago. Therefore, I hoped Emanuel would just get his election over with and avoid a runoff so the rest of us would be spared two more months of the candidates taking shots at each other through attack ads and the media.

Emanuel’s big win also means Rahm has an additional two months to concentrate on solving Chicago’s problems instead of worrying about campaigning. Emanuel has some tough decisions ahead of him, as Chicago is in bad financial shape (no surprise at a time when that’s the norm in states and cities across the country). He also may be in a no-win situation. If he doesn’t make headway into fixing the city’s problems, he probably won’t be re-elected four years from now. The way I see it, he likely will have to make some unpopular decisions in order to start the repair work, so even if he does his job as well as he can, he still may not get re-elected.

Good luck, Rahm– you’re going to need it.

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Not surprisingly, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has resurfaced in the news in time to try to influence the upcoming Chicago mayoral race.

Attorneys for the impeached governor filed a motion Tuesday seeking supposedly missing evidence in his corruption trial, including records of a phone call between an aide and Rahm Emanuel, then the White House chief of staff (and now the clear frontrunner in the Chicago mayoral race). I use the phrase “supposedly missing” because I’m suspicious that the lawyers didn’t notice the evidence missing during Blagojevich’s first trial and the timing of the egomaniac ex-governor’s request coincidentally (or not so coincidentally) is just two weeks before the Feb. 22 mayoral election.

No matter. It is unlikely Blagojevich can do anything to derail the Rahm train. All the polls show Emanuel leading by a wide margin; an ABC7 poll released today suggests Emanuel has a commanding lead, drawing the support of 54 percent of those surveyed. (His closest competitor, Gery Chico, has the support of a mere 14 percent of those surveyed.)

Still, Emanuel addressed the subject of the “missing” tape Tuesday. Here is what he said about it, courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times‘ Blago Blog:

He hearkened back to a two-year-old report by then-President-elect Obama’s transition team that concluded there were “about four” conversations between Emanuel and Blagojevich Chief of Staff John Harris, but “nothing inappropriate or any deal-making.”

“It also noted that I was asked at the time by the President’s transition (team) to provide a list of four names for the U.S. Senate: Tammy Duckworth, Jan Schakowsky, Dan Hynes and Congressman Jesse Jackson [Jr.],” Emanuel recalled, noting there was a separate conversation about Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Trial testimony indicated that Blagojevich and his team considered this list a “BS list.”

“I provided that list. Then, there was a question: The governor’s representative said, `What’s in it for us?’ And I responded, `You’ll get thanks and appreciation‚ [but nothing more]. You also know how the [former] governor responded to the word, `appreciation.’ That’s been detailed over two years ago in the report.”

Testimony at Rod Blagojevich’s trial indicated that it was in fact lobbyist John Wyma who passed on that message to the Blagojevich team in early November, 2008 at Emanuel’s request. Wyma at that point had been cooperating with the feds in their probe against the former governor and provided the government with the necessary information to put up wiretaps against Blagojevich.

Meanwhile in other Blagojevich news, the judge presiding over the former governor’s retrial (U.S. District Judge James Zagel) ruled Tuesday that jurors’ names will remain anonymous throughout the trial and will not be made public until eight hours after the verdict is delivered. You can read the ruling here, again courtesy of the Sun-Times‘ Blago Blog.