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Chicago Voters Keep Mayor Rahm Emanuel In Office


In Chicago, it was a jubilant night for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The former White House chief of staff won re-election to a second term. Emanuel spent millions of dollars and defeated Jesus Chuy Garcia after being forced into a runoff election. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.


UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Four more years. Four more years.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: With supporters chanting four more years, Rahm Emanuel, with a voice hoarse from campaigning, claimed victory outright and said he had been humbled. Six weeks earlier, Emanuel had failed to capture enough votes to avoid a runoff.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL: And to all the voters, I want to thank you for putting me through my paces. I will be a better mayor because of that. I will carry your voices, your concerns into the office of the mayor's office.

CORLEY: Emanuel won the runoff with 56 percent of the vote compared to 44 percent for Cook County Commissioner Jesus Chuy Garcia.


JESUS GARCIA: We didn't lose today. We tried today.


CORLEY: In his concession speech, Garcia, who had hoped to make history as the city's first Latino mayor, urged others who would come after him to try as well.


GARCIA: And someday, one of you will be standing right here where I am tonight.


CORLEY: Emanuel raised more than $23 million for his re-election bid and plastered the airwaves with ads. In sum, he attacked Garcia as too inexperienced to handle the city's fiscal problems. In others, he acknowledged that he had an abrasive personality that may have rubbed some the wrong way. Garcia raised about $6 million with the help in part of two major unions, including the Chicago Teachers Union, which has long been at odds with Emanuel. The union's Jesse Sharkey says Garcia was able to build an impressive coalition of Latinos, whites, blacks and labor.

JESSE SHARKEY: And we put the political establishment in this city on the run and on the defensive over the last several months. I think it's going to change the political conversation in the city.

CORLEY: And maybe in the nation since the race became symbolic of the battle between moderate and progressive factions of the Democratic Party. But Emanuel says he's been listening and ready for change.


EMANUEL: I'm proud of what we've accomplished in these past four years. But I understand the challenges we face will require me to approach them differently and work in a different fashion.

CORLEY: Those challenges include serious fiscal problems, deeply underfunded pensions and a budget deficit expected to grow to more than a billion dollars by next year. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Cheryl Corley is a Chicago-based NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk. She primarily covers criminal justice issues as well as breaking news in the Midwest and across the country.
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