Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has won re-election to a second term as the mayor of Chicago
Emanuel, who was at the White House during President Barack Obama's first term, overwhelmingly defeated Jesus "Chuy" Garcia in Tuesday's runoff vote, capturing 56 percent of the vote compared to 44 percent for Garcia. The mayor was forced into the runoff after failing to capture the necessary 50 percent of the vote in February's initial election, despite coming in first place over four other candidates.
Garcia, a Cook County commissioner and former Chicago alderman and Illinois state lawmaker, had denounced Emanuel for ignoring the needs of Chicago's neighborhoods. He criticized him over a decision to close 50 public schools in low-income neighborhoods and blamed the mayor for a staggering increase in gang violence. The mayor countered by describing Garcia as too inexperienced to deal with such problems as the city's massive budget deficit and an underfunded pension fund for retired city employees.
Emanuel, who is also a former U.S. congressman, has a reputation for an abrasive personality that likely alienated many voters. During the runoff campaign, he appeared in television ads acknowledging his flaws, while adding that his manner was necessary to make hard decisions.
In his victory speech Tuesday night, the mayor thanked voters for "putting me through my paces. I will be a better mayor because of that."
Observers said the race between the two Democratic candidates as symbolic of the current tensions between the party's moderate side and its resurgent liberal wing, represented by such figures as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.