POSTED: 04:32 p.m. HST, Feb 22, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 05:13 p.m. HST, Feb 22, 2011
CHICAGO >> Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago today, 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.
With 89 percent of the precincts reporting, Emanuel was trouncing 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.
Reginald Bachus, the 51-year-old pastor of a West Side church, 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 but were no match for Emanuel's momentum and money.
Chico had 24 percent of the vote compared to 9 percent for both del Valle and Braun. Two other lesser-known candidates each got about 1 percent.
Emanuel's victory capped a campaign that included an unsuccessful legal challenge to try to keep him off the ballot
The campaign began last fall when Daley — with his wife ailing, six terms under his belt and a future of fiscal challenges facing Chicago — announced he would not seek re-election.
Chico and Braun swiftly conceded to Emanuel. Both were badly outspent in the campaign. An attempt to make Braun the consensus candidate for the city's black voters fizzled.