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Keys To Rahm Emanuel’s Decisive Victory

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Jay Levine

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine talks about the mayoral race. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel succeeded in the mayoral race by connecting with people across the city, and raising money far in excess of any of his opponents, explains CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine.

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Emanuel had captured 55 percent of the vote, while his next closest challenger, Gery Chico, had about 24 percent. By taking more than 50 percent of the vote, Emanuel avoided a one-on-one runoff election in April with the number two candidate.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports

Former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle both had about 9 percent of the vote, while Patricia Van Pelt Watkins had 1.6 percent and William “Dock” Walls had less than 1 percent.

While the Chicago Board of Elections hoped turnout would slightly exceed 50 percent, it topped out only at about 42 percent. Levine says this benefited Emanuel because he had the funds to connect with the voters who would turn out.

Newsradio 780’s Craig Dellimore reports Emanuel’s solid victory gives him somewhat of a mandate, but that he still needs to garner support among a city council that will have several new members.

Emanuel raised $13 million during the campaign. Chico raised $4.3 million, Braun $540,000, and Del Valle $250,000.

With the funds he raised, Emanuel was able to hire 40 staffers to work at his State Street campaign headquarters, and make calls before Election Day to get the vote out.

“When you’ve got that kind of campaign money, it gives you a big leg up point on the competition,” Levin said.

As for the other candidates, Levine says Braun’s poor performance was a disappointment to many.

While U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) said publicly Tuesday night that he stood by his decision to withdraw from the mayoral race in late December and throw his support to Braun, and called her candidacy “a good try.” But Levine says Davis has felt betrayed for the last several weeks.

He and other supporters were assured by Braun that she could raise money and reach out all across the city. She had promised to raise $3 million, but raised only about one sixth that much. She did not mount advertising on television – either cable or broadcast.

Braun had been picked as the consensus African-American candidate. But in the predominantly African-American 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th wards, Emanuel captured more than 50 percent of the vote, Levine said.

Emanuel garnered support among African-Americans because of his relationship with President Barack Obama, but that was not the only factor, Levine said.

“There was also a message he got out,” Levine said. “He connected with people. He managed to connect… with the generation of African-Americans from the South and West sides that elected Harold Washington in 1983.”

The voters who elected the city’s first African-American mayor were in their 20s and 30s back then, and won Emanuel’s support now in their 40s, 50s and 60s, Levine said.

Meanwhile, 14 City Council seats are up for runoff elections, and many seats will turn over. Emanuel has a slate of aldermanic candidates he is backing, and still has $2 million in funds left over that could be used to campaign for them, Levine said.

Emanuel hopes to have a majority of 30 out of 50 aldermen whom he can “work with” – not control, but collaborate with, Levine said.

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