(CBS) — In a stunning announcement at City Hall on Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he is not running for a third term in 2019.
“Today, the time has come to make another tough choice. As much as I love this job, and will always love this city and its residents, I’ve decided not to seek re-election,” the mayor said in a surprise announcement at City Hall with his wife, Amy Rule, at his side. “This has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime.”
Emanuel had survived a runoff election against Cook County Commissioner Jesus Chuy Garcia in 2015, and would have faced at least 11 challengers who had announced plans to run against him next year, including former Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, who Emanuel fired in 2015.
The mayor’s announcement was eerily similar to that of his predecessor, Richard M. Daley, who also gave no warning before announcing in September 2010 that he would not seek a seventh term, following a record 21 years in office.
Choking back tears as he spoke, Emanuel said serving as mayor for two terms has required major sacrifices from him and his wife, and said with their three children now in college, “it is time for us to write a new chapter together.”
“I want to thank the people of Chicago for the opportunity to serve. It will fill my eyes with tears to leave a job I love, and already my heart is full with gratitude. We have worked together. We have celebrated progress together. We have grieved together. Amy and I made friendships across this city that will last a lifetime,” Emanuel said.
Emanuel did not announce plans to endorse any candidate in 2019.
“We will stand ready and eager to work with whoever is lucky enough to come next and ensure a smooth and positive transition. We owe our city nothing less,” he said.
While Emanuel has spent months amassing a $10 million campaign war chest, he still likely faced a difficult election. His popularity among African-American voters, in particular, has suffered in recent years, due to his handling of the McDonald shooting, and his closing of 50 public schools at the end of his first term.
He has spent months fighting back against the Trump administrations immigration policies, in moves widely seen as an attempt, at least in part, to shore up his support among Hispanic voters.
The mayor also faced significant anger from taxpayers after instituting record property tax increases to help shore up the city’s employee pension systems. With at least 11 challengers lined up in 2019, and possibly more even before his announcement, Emanuel almost certainly would have faced another one-on-one runoff next year.
Emanuel’s announcement comes one day before jury selection is set to begin in the murder trial of Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.
The release of dashboard camera video of the shooting one year later led to a series of protests, and demands for Emanuel to resign, as protesters accused Emanuel of intentionally keeping the video under wraps until after the 2015 mayoral election.
The mayor made no mention of the McDonald case at his announcement, which came just hours after he helped celebrate the first day of school for Chicago Public Schools students.
The candidates who have announced plans to run in 2019 include McCarthy, former Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, former CPS principal Troy LaRaviere, millionaire businessman Willie Wilson, community activist Ja’mal Green, former aldermanic candidate John Kolzar, tech entrepreneur Neal Sales-Griffin, DePaul student Matthew Roney, and onetime mayoral candidate Amara Enyia.