Rahm Emanuel won his re-election contest Tuesday night and defeated challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia to remain in charge of Chicago for four more years.
“I have had the good fortune to serve two presidents, being elected to congress, but being mayor of the city of Chicago is the greatest job I’ve ever had. I’m humbled at the opportunity to serve you, the greatest city for the next 4 years," Emanuel said in his victory speech.
"We are the city that works, and that means it has to work for everyone in every neighborhood. The decisions we make in 4 years will determine what Chicago will look like in the next 40 years."
The former congressman and White House chief of staff was victorious in the election runoff despite opposition from the Chicago Teachers Union and the Service Employees International Union who backed Garcia.
“We didn’t lose today, we tried today,” Garcia said as he conceded the race Tuesday night.
Garcia surprised the political system when he forced Emanuel into the city’s first ever runoff election for mayor.
In his first term, Emanuel clashed with teachers over a contract dispute that led to a strike. NBC Chicago noted that the term also saw him “close 50 schools in mostly black neighborhoods, preside over a wave of violent crime on the south and west sides, and install a series of questionable red light cameras around the city, among other autocratic decisions.”
The central theme of Garcia's campaign was “I’m not Rahm” but he did not go into specifics about how he would manage the city's problems.
Emanuel's ads painted the Garcia as completely unprepared for the job of managing a multi-billion dollar budget.
While the Emanuel campaign was ultimately successful, NBC Chicago noted that “Emanuel remains a deeply disliked individual. He even acknowledged his testy personality in an on-air advertisement that saw him own up to his reputation as a hard-charging jerk.”
Emanuel was disliked by many Israelis when he served as Obama's chief of staff, from 2008 to 2010. He was seen by many as a Jew who betrayed his own people in serving a president whom most Israelis dislike and distrust, and who tried to pressure Israel into ceding its land.
He brought his son Zach to the Western Wall for his Bar Mitzvah in 2010, but almost canceled the event when nationalists threatened to disrupt it, and eventually held a smaller event than he had planned. Several dozen activists shouted 'traitor' at him near the Hurva Synagogue, and activist leader Itamar Ben Gvir was detained and forcibly removed from the scene by police. The activists told reporters that a person who thinks the Kotel (Western Wall) should be handed over to Arabs should not be allowed to go to the Kotel.
There was some debate in Israel regarding the authenticity of the tears he appeared to shed at the Kotel, on that occasion.