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Chicago election results catapult Rahm Emanuel into mayor's office

No runoff needed: Rahm Emanuel, former US congressman and Obama chief of staff, wins a majority in Chicago election results to succeed longtime Mayor Richard M. Daley.

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“During the course of a campaign, a lot of things are said and a lot of things are done, but afterwards we kiss and make up,” White said.

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What helped Emanuel with black voters was the stealth endorsement from President Obama, says Mr. Rose. Video of Mr. Obama praising Emanuel during the latter’s farewell ceremony in the White House, used in pro-Emanuel television campaign ads, may have given many the impression that Emanuel had the president's informal blessing.

Obama, in a statement released late Tuesday, predicted that Emanuel would be “a terrific mayor for all the people of Chicago.” “As a Chicagoan and a friend, I couldn’t be prouder,” Obama said. In his speech, Emanuel said the president had called him earlier that night to offer his congratulations.

“One of the ironies” in the race, says Rose, is how Emanuel managed to establish ties with Chicago’s minority communities. “In a sense … the guy who would appear in many ways to be the most divisive figure turns out to be the person with a genuine coalition,” Rose says.

Emanuel also has an expansive network outside Chicago, specifically Hollywood and Wall Street – another edge he maintained over his competitors. Fundraising records show a large share of his donors came from the financial services, real estate, and film and television industries. In total, Emanuel’s $8.3 million bankroll makes his the largest campaign chest in Illinois to date.

Former White House senior adviser David Axelrod said in an interview Tuesday night that Emanuel’s connections, especially in Washington, will not necessarily mean that Chicago will get preferential treatment in federal dollars.

“Chicago will get everything it is entitled to.… I can’t say [Emanuel will] get stronger favors because of it. Obviously, the president has great affection for this city … but he has to be fair, as well. Whatever the city is entitled to the city will get, and I don’t think Rahm will leave one dollar on the table,” Mr. Axelrod said.

This race was a historic one for Chicago. It is the first in 64 years that did not have an incumbent mayor on the ballot, and the first in 22 years without Daley as a candidate. Emanuel will take office in May.

In his speech, Emanuel called Daley “an impossible act to follow” and said the departing mayor “earned a special place in our hearts and our history.”

In succeeding Daley, Emanuel inherits an unenviable legacy of the Daley years: concentrated crime in economically marginalized neighborhoods, poorly performing public schools, a $654.8 million budget deficit, and a nearly $600 million pension obligation.

Alderman Joe Moore, a long-standing member of the city council who won his own reelection bid Tuesday, says Emanuel faces “a huge undertaking.” “There are no more quick fixes or rabbits pulled out of the hat [to deal with the budget deficit]. Daley has pretty much exhausted that repertoire,” he says. The new mayor will probably have to cut city services and, perhaps, increase fees and taxes, Mr. Moore adds.

“They’re all going to be politically tough choices,” he says.

Emanuel said Chicago needs to “confront” the budget deficit, but he added that he wants a “budget that is balanced and a playing field that is fair” to taxpayers.

During his campaign, he hinted that he may seek revenues in new places: possibly a casino along the lakefront, or an increased share in state tax dollars resulting from a recent state tax increase.

“We don’t know what the real Rahm can do. You’ve seen a guy running a textbook campaign, holding himself in check,” says Rose. “The fact is, you can’t cut your way out of this deficit. So how is he going to find revenue? That’s the question.”

Chicagoans may have an opportunity to get answers sooner than they might have expected. In closing his speech Tuesday, Emanuel revealed his plans for Wednesday morning: “I’m going to see you on that El stop.”

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