Round Two Begins In Race For Mayor; Emanuel Vs. Garcia On April 7

CHICAGO (CBS) — After suffering an embarrassing setback in his bid for a second term, Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces six more weeks of campaigning, in a head-to-head battle with Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Despite having the significant advantages of incumbency, a $15 million campaign warchest, and the backing of President Barack Obama and a laundry list of powerful political insiders, Emanuel was unable deliver a knockout blow in the five-way race for mayor on Tuesday, winning just 45 percent of the vote on Tuesday. He now faces the first-ever runoff in a race for mayor since the city switched to non-partisan elections in 1999.

Tuesday’s results might have exposed a chink in Emanuel’s armor, as nearly 55 percent of voters chose someone other than him, even though he raised four times as much campaign cash as his four opponents combined. That fact alone could give Garcia momentum ahead of an April 7 runoff against the mayor.

After conceding he would not avoid a runoff Tuesday night, Emanuel acknowledged he’s got more work to do to keep his job.

“To those who voted for me in this election, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” a hoarse Emanuel said at an Election Night rally. “For those who voted for someone else, I hope to earn your confidence and your support in the weeks to come.”

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Garcia was backed by the Chicago Teachers Union very early in the race, and was convinced to run by CTU President Karen Lewis, after a bout with cancer forced her to drop her own plans to challenge Emanuel.

After securing nearly 34 percent of the vote in the fire-way race – outperforming recent polls showing him with around 25 percent of the vote – Garcia sought to keep the momentum going Tuesday night.

“We’ve got six weeks of hard work ahead of us, and believe me, these big money interests are going to throw everything they’ve got at us,” Garcia told supporters. “They run this town, and they’re not going to give up easy, but we’re going to fight, and we’re going to work hard, and we’re going to win. We’re going to change this city together.”

Garcia was up early Wednesday, thanking voters at the CTA Brown Line station at the Merchandise Mart at 7:30 a.m. He sounded very much like a victor as he glad-handed with commuters. Garcia said he has a broad base of support in his bid to unseat Emanuel.

“My campaign reached out to every part of the city of Chicago. I’m very proud of it. As I stated, we’re seeking to move Chicago by building the coalition of the 21st Century. I think yesterday’s numbers are an indication of that. I reached out to all of the candidates who participated in the race, and we’ll continue to dialogue with them as we move forward,” he said.

Garcia, of course, was hoping to pick up some key endorsements from the other challengers in the race as his campaign enters the second phase.

Emanuel, meantime, greeted commuters at the 95th Street Red Line terminal and visited a senior citizens building in the West Pullman neighborhood.

Emanuel grudgingly admitted he is disappointed to not win reelection outright and vows to work hard to earn people’s votes, but also said he is not going to change his personality.

“I don’t think you should be not who you are,” Emanuel said. “The worst thing in politics is that people think you’re not honest with yourself. They are smart. The public is smart. What I will continue to do is not only fight for what I believe is right, tell people why I think it is right.”

Neither candidate can waste much time making their case with voters, as the runoff is less than six weeks away, on April 7.

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