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With Chicago's Mayoral Election Headed to a Runoff, How Badly Do Chicagoans Still Want the 'Strongman' Style of Emanuel?

02/25/2015 04:10 pm ET | Updated Apr 27, 2015

When Rahm Emanuel rolled to victory in 2011 Chicago mayoral race -- the city's first real contest since Richard M. Daley's election in 1989 -- it seemed like a match made in political heaven.

Emanuel embodied everything Chicago saw in itself: He was tough, brash, profane, smart, witty and successful. He brought with him the pedigree of two Democratic White House administrations. He saw big problems ahead for his city, and he vowed to take them on head-on.

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass' post-Emanuel-victory column bore the headline "The city wanted a strongman -- and it got one."

[B]y winning Tuesday's election without a messy runoff, Rahm Emanuel is boss of Chicago.

He'll govern that way. It's what was sold. It's what is expected. The thing is, he's smarter than the old boss, more talented, skillful, adept, more focused.

If one of Rahm's relatives ever receives $70 million in City Hall pension funds to invest in a real estate deal, he won't be able to say that he didn't know what was going on.

No one would believe him.

Rahm will begin making moves almost immediately, what with the city's finances in disastrous shape. And he will change minds.

This is no game.

Emanuel won election outright on Feb. 22, 2011, with 55 percent of the vote, well beyond the 50-percent-plus-one-vote threshold needed to avoid an April runoff with the second-place finisher, Gery Chico. (Chico received just shy of 24 percent.)

By all indications at the time, Emanuel was poised to forge a legacy like that of his predecessor, Richard M. Daley, who had held the office since 1989 -- a legacy that would include general election vote totals that would make the term "Chicago mayoral runoff election" a hypothetical construct. (Daley won his last two elections with 78 percent and 71 percent of the vote in February elections, respectively.)

But on Feb. 24, Emanuel did not win outright. He won about 45 percent of the vote, with challenger Jesus "Chuy Garcia" winning about 34 percent. The two will go head-to-head in an April 7 runoff. Will Chicagoans double down on their wish for an Emanuel-strong leader or forge a new road and elect Garcia?

(Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.)

In addition to the newly intensified mayoral race, 19 of the city's 43 contested aldermanic races will now go to runoffs. Two of those races include candidates whose families have been long-time Chicago political fixtures -- Patrick Daley Thompson in the 11th Ward, and 33rd Ward Ald. Deb Mell. Other runoff races include the 15th Ward, 43rd Ward, Second Ward, 16th Ward and others.

(See the full list at Reboot Illinois, plus find out which young politician ousted the only City Council member who lost his seat Tuesday night.)

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