Garcia humbles Mayor Emanuel, forces run-off April 7

Garcia humbles Mayor Emanuel, forces run-off April 7 5.00/5 (100.00%) 1 vote

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was forced into an April 7 mayoral election run-off by Jesus Chuy Garcia because of his own missteps characterized by his failure to be the inclusive mayor he claimed to be. Emanuel isolated Hispanics, American Arabs and allowed his image as an arrogant, mean politician to tarnish his promises to make Chicago a better community. Here’s an analysis of why Emanuel failed to win enough votes Tuesday

By Ray Hanania

Jesus Chuy Garcia had the backing of progressive and some members of the old Harold Washington Coalition but his base is the Hispanic community.

Jesus Chuy Garcia had the backing of progressive and some members of the old Harold Washington Coalition but his base is the Hispanic community.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel lost the support of Chicago voters that he enjoyed in 2011 and was forced into a humiliating run-off by Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia on Tuesday in what was one of Chicago’s lowest voter turnouts.

Emanuel received an embarrassingly low 45.4 percent of the vote or only 208,305 votes. Garcia received a strong 33.9 percent of the vote or 155,545 votes. The unofficial numbers represent 98 percent of all votes cast Tuesday.

Three other contenders also stripped away votes leading many to argue that Emanuel was denied a victory because of their performances. Wealthy McDonald’s Franchiser Willie Wilson ran in 3rd Place receiving 10.6 percent of the vote or 48,660 votes. Chicago Alderman Robert “Bob” Fioretti, who also courted Arab American voters, received only 7.4 percent of the vote or 33,911 votes, and perennial mayoral candidate William “Doc” Walls increased his vote totals from previous attempts to run for mayor receiving 2.8 percent of the total votes or 12,692 votes.

Emanuel was was forced into the run-off for several reasons:

Despite spending more than $10 million, his campaign candidacy failed to convince voters he has the ability to address the city’s challenges, from rising crime to improving the city’s schools.

Rahm Emanuel enjoyed the support of co-chairs Luis Gutierrez, Susana Mendoza and Secretary of State Jessie White.

Rahm Emanuel enjoyed the support of co-chairs Luis Gutierrez, Susana Mendoza and Secretary of State Jessie White.

Emanuel’s poor leadership during four years in office has turned off Chicago voters and more than 131,000 fewer Chicagoans went to the polls on Tuesday compared to four years ago when Emanuel won. The winter weather was not an issue as Tuesday was a mild day with no snow or blizzards to keep voters from voting.

Emanuel’s chief challenger became Garcia who rallied Chicago’s large Hispanic vote and most of the former progressive coalition that rallied behind the election of the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington in 1983, although most African American voters backed Emanuel and the three other mayoral contenders.

In 2011, Emanuel received 326, 311 total votes against five challengers who together received 264,026 total votes representing a total voter turnout of 590,337 total votes cast. The lead challenger against Emanuel in 2011 was Gery Chico who received 141,228 votes.

This election, the unofficial total votes cast tabulated by the Chicago Election Commission is only 459,113, which is more than 131,000 votes less than 2011.

Rahm Emanuel receives the endorsement of President Barack Obama.

Rahm Emanuel receives the endorsement of President Barack Obama.

Garcia defeated Emanuel in 15 of the city’s 50 wards, but most of the wards Garcia won are predominantly Hispanic. Emanuel dominated the remaining 45 wards including those where African American voters are strongest.

The truth is that Emanuel was forced into a run-off not because of Garcia’s strong election campaign, but because the three other candidates, Wilson, Fioretti and Walls siphoned off more than 100,000 votes, mostly African American most of whom would have voted for Emanuel.

“Clearly, Emanuel was unable to win the more than 50 percent of the vote needed to be re-elected as Chicago mayor but not because Garcia took his vote away. The votes were taken from Emanuel by Fioretti, Wilson and Walls,” one veteran political observer said.

“Garcia has momentum but the historic rivalries between Chicago’s large Hispanic vote and Chicago’s large African American vote will clash in the run-off election, as they have int he past, and most African American votes will go to Emanuel, not Garcia. Garcia has his work cut-off for him and Emanuel knows it. This may be humiliating for Emanuel, who spent an obscene amount of money, more than $10 million, to do so poorly, but in the end, Emanuel can easily pull his winning coalition back together if he is smart.”

Although Garcia had the backing of Cook County Clerk David Orr, Emanuel had the backing of Chicagoland’s two most popular Hispanic leaders, Congressman Luis Gutierrez and City Clerk Susana Mendoza. In fact, in the past Gutierrez and Garcia have been so close some speculated that Gutierrez and Garcia might be trying to help Emanuel win re-election int he face of polling that showed Emanuel’s popularity dropping significantly.

Rahm Emanuel had strong African American voter presence at his election night rally

Rahm Emanuel had strong African American voter presence at his election night rally

But Emanuel also had the backing of Illinois’ only African American statewide officeholder, Secretary of State Jessie White who stood next to Emanuel on election night Tuesday, and he had the backing of popular Black Congressman Bobbie Rush.

Wilson, the wealthy McDonald’s franchise owner who led the three remaining rivals with the largest vote, had the backing of African American Congressman Danny Davis. Davis, who was also a leading figure in the election of Washington in 1983, is expected to endorse Emanuel.

Garcia received a boost by gathering together many communities that Emanuel disenfranchised by a style critics called “simply mean and cruel.”

For example, American Arabs rallied around Garcia who with the support of Mayor Washington created the Advisory Commission on Arab Affairs following his election. The Arab American Democratic Club led by American Arab political activist Samir Khalil brought Chicago’s 30,000 Arab voters together to support Garcia. More than 400 attended a fundraiser for Garcia sponsored by the AADC last month.

One of Emanuel’s first acts as mayor was to abolish the Arab Advisory Commission and to pull support and funding for the annual Arabesque Festival. Many believed Emanuel’s dislike of American Arabs stems from his Jewish background and his military service with Israel, a point Arab voters have raised repeatedly. Additionally, Emanuel’s father was a leader of the notorious Irgun Tzvi Leuhmi during the 1947 Arab-Israeli war which was designated as a terrorist organization and which was responsible for reprehensible massacres of Arab civilians including at Deir Yassin in April 1948.

Emanuel has snubbed repeated outreach efforts by American Arab community leaders, even though they were a major part of the administration of his predecessor, Mayor Richard M. Daley. And despite the differences on Middle East issues, Emanuel received the endorsement in 2011 of the Arab Community’s largest newspaper, the English and Arabic language newspaper The Future News published by Mansour Tadros.

“Arab Americans are not interested in fighting with Rahm Emanuel over the Middle East conflict,” one American Arab activists explained. “They are interested in being included. They are voters. Taxpayers. Business people. Veterans of the U.S. Military service. And they care about the city of Chicago. Refusing to include them in his government as he has done is morally wrong.”

Khalil said that he believes Garcia assembled the coalition that helped elect Harold Washington Mayor in Chicago in 1983 and predicted that Garcia will defeat Emanuel in the one-on-one run-off on Tuesday April 7, which is only six weeks away.

“Garcia not only has the support of American Arabs he has the programs and the ideas to address the challenges facing Chicago,” Khalil said. “Emanuel has failed to deliver on his promises. He has isolated communities and he received most of his support from outside of Chicago.”

While most of Emanuel’s fundraising has come from big name donors from outside of Chicago, the majority of Garcia’s money came from Chicago and Chicagoland contributors.

Going into the run-off election, Emanuel has the backing of President Barack Obama. Emanuel also had the endorsements of two of Chicago’s most influential African American newspapers, The Chicago Defender and the Chicago Citizen Newspapers.

“The April 7 election will reflect a contest between which group has more influence, Chicago’s Hispanics or CHicago’s African Americans. Chicago is a city defined by racial identity and race politics and there is no reason to believe that won’t be the case this time,” a political observer said.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and President and CEO of Urban Strategies Group media consulting. He can be reached at [email protected])

Ray Hanania

Blogger, Columnist at Illinois News Network Online
Ray Hanania is senior blogger for the Illinois News Network news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (From Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). And, Hanania is a stubborn and loud critic of the biased mainstream American news media.

In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. He hosted a live weekend Radio Show on WLS AM radio from 1980 through 1991, and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM and shows on WSBC AM in Chicago and WNZK AM in Detroit.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. He currently is syndicated through Creators Syndicate and his column is feature every Sunday in the Saudi Gazette in Saudi Arabia. He has written for the Jerusalem Post,, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His Chicagoland political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News on several Chicagoland blogs including the and

Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

His personal website is Email him at: [email protected]