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Obama Advisor Wins Chicago Mayor Race

Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel (file)

A former key advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama has won the race to become mayor of Chicago, the third largest city in the United States.

With more than 85 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday evening, former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was leading with around 55 percent of the vote. That is more than double his nearest competitor and safely above the 50 percent margin needed to win the election outright and avoid a runoff.

Election officials said turnout was lower than expected Tuesday. Earlier, they had predicted 50% of voters would head to the polls in the first election in more than two decades without incumbent Mayor Richard Daley on the ballot.

Emanuel, known as "Rahmbo" for his blunt and often foul-mouthed way of speaking, quickly became the favorite to succeed Daley. Mr. Obama has endorsed the 51-year-old Emanuel, as has former U.S. President Bill Clinton, for whom Emanuel was a senior advisor in the 1990s.

Also in the race are Carol Moseley Braun, the first African American woman elected as a U.S. senator, former Chicago school board president Gery Chico and City Clerk Miguel del Valle.

Emanuel's political opponents tried to keep him off the ballot since he had not met a city requirement to live in Chicago in the year preceding the election. A court decision briefly threw him off the ballot, but the Illinois Supreme Court reinstated his name.

Emanuel has often said his dream was to become Chicago's mayor. One pre-election poll showed him with the support of 58 percent of those surveyed, with his opponents trailing far behind.

Whoever wins the election faces daunting city financial woes. Like many local and state governments in the United States, Chicago faces a huge cash shortfall in its 2011 budget, more than $600 million. The city also has not funded an estimated $20 billion it owes to retired municipal workers.