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Rahm Emanuel wins Chicago mayoral race, avoids runoff

Rahm Emanuel has won the Chicago mayoral race by 55 percent which brings him over the 50 percent needed to avoid an April runoff. Emanuel calls the win humbling.

By Deanna Bellandi and Tammy WebberAssociated Press / February 22, 2011

Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel smiles at the crowd after winning the mayoral race Tuesday, in Chicago. Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago, easily overwhelming five rivals to take the helm of the nation's third-largest city as it prepares to chart a new course without the retiring Richard M. Daley.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

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Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, easily overwhelming five rivals to take the helm of the nation's third-largest city as it prepares to chart a new course without the retiring Richard M. Daley.

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With 97 percent of the precincts reporting, Emanuel had trounced five opponents with 55 percent of the vote — a margin that allowed him to avoid an April runoff. He needed more than 50 percent of the vote to win outright.

It was the city's first mayoral race in more than 60 years without an incumbent on the ballot and the first in more than two decades without Daley among the candidates. Daley and his father have led Chicago for more than 43 out of the last 56 years.

Emanuel called the victory "humbling" and thanked Daley for his lifetime of service, saying the outgoing mayor had "earned a special place in our hearts and our history."

But he added: "We have not won anything until a kid can go to school thinking of their studies and not their safety. Until the parent of that child is thinking about their work and not where they are going to find work, we have not won anything."

Reginald Bachus, the 51-year-old pastor of a West Side church who voted for Emanuel, said this was "a very critical time for Chicago.

"We really need a mayor who has vision. It's my personal opinion everyone else would have been a manager, and I think Rahm has vision," Bachus said.

The other major candidates — former Chicago schools president Gery Chico, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and City Clerk Miguel del Valle — had hoped to force a runoff that would have extended the campaign for six more weeks. But they were no match for Emanuel's momentum and money.

Chico had 25 percent of the vote compared with 9 percent for both del Valle and Braun. Two other lesser-known candidates each got about 1 percent.

The campaign began last fall when Daley — with an ailing wife, six terms under his belt and a future full of looming fiscal challenges — announced he would not seek re-election.

Emanuel, a 51-year-old married father of three, will be the city's first Jewish mayor, is a well-known figure in national Democratic politics. He worked for two presidents and served three terms representing the North Side in the House of Representatives.

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