The top five reasons why Rahm Emanuel won the race for Mayor of Chicago: Dart, Obama, Daley, $12 million, and Braun/del Valle
1. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart decided not to run for Mayor. Dart is a popular former Democratic State Rep. and pol who was going to run for Attorney General in 2002, but House Speaker Mike Madigan made him an offer he couldn't refuse (State Treasurer nomination and a continued political career) to clear the field for the Speaker's daughter, Lisa. Dart lost the Treasurer's race, but then was placed (slated) in the Sheriff's position and re-elected a few months ago. Dart is a bright, friendly, personable well connected guy who has a great, reformer image and may even be one. Although white, he would have had a reasonably receptive audience in the African-American community. Dart would have raised more money than Chico but less than Emanuel. For sure, there would have been a run-off if the race included Emanuel, Dart, Chico and Braun. Dart may have stayed out of the Mayor's race because he thought the emerging Daley-Obama-Emanuel team left him too little of the Democratic political and financial power base to work on. Or, maybe the City's Combine made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Dart said he wanted to spend more time with the wife and kids than being Mayor would allow. Maybe so.
2. President Barack Obama essentially endorsed Emanuel, without saying so. Obama said wonderful things about Rahm on the day he left his White House Chief of Staff position and team Emanuel orchestrated the video and audio from that day to be used in a Rahm TV ad. Clearly, Obama did not object to the implied endorsement of Emanuel in the TV ad. The Obama ad's importance for the Black community in Chicago cannot be overestimated. Throw in the Bill Clinton endorsement of Rahm and that is topping on the cake, for both the white and black communities.
3. Mayor Daley tacitly endorsed Emanuel. There were a lot of Daley friends and allies out there working for Emanuel, in the white, Hispanic and black communities Daley, for 22 years, has been co-opting opponents in the minority communities by making sure patronage and other goodies are spread around. Blacks may not fare so well on set-aside contracts, but they get quite a bit of City of Chicago government largesse. If the Daley people let it be known that Emanuel is the guy to keep the spigot on, the ad run by Danny Davis that argued that being black means voting for Braun is much less convincing.
4. Rahm Emanuel raised twelve million dollars in the last three months, or so, of 2010. That was before the law made it illegal, sort of, to give more than 50K to the candidates, and harder to give even 50 K. Life is easier when you know a lot of wealthy people and entities and they want to and can give you, in one fell swoop: 100K, 150K or 200K. Emanuel has enormous breadth of fund raising talent and contacts in the City and across the country. For example, major law firm and accounting firm partners across a broad range of practice areas love Rahm--he and his friends are handy people to have on your side if you do private equity or investment banking, are a Fortune 500 company or have anything to do with the City of Chicago, State of Illinois, and the Feds, anywhere.
5. Rahm was blessed with weak opponents. He had only four major opponents. If you can't raise big money, you can't be competitive for Mayor of Chicago. That knocks out former State Senator and City Clerk Miguel del Valle. That also knocks out Carol Moseley-Braun. Of course, if you have a very strong natural base, like the African-American community, you might make it without the money. However, the last time Carol was elected to anything was 18 years ago and there have been so many negative things about her since then, including the last three months, her black and women's movement base were sharply diminished. That left only Chico for Rahm to worry about. Chico is smart, articulate, knows the issues, has well thought out ideas about solutions and his experience appears perfect for the job. Unlike his Senate run in 2004, he had developed his Hispanic base this time around. He did well in some of the white ethnic wards, but had little appeal in the black community (the Obama and Daley factors). Also, he could raise only $3.5 million to Rahm's 13 million for the whole campaign. That just doesn't cut it. Chico had to rely on del Valle and Braun to help him by pulling enough votes away from Rahm to force a run-off. They were too weak to do it.