Chicago Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel Sweeps On Low Turnout

Chicago Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel Sweeps On Low Turnout

Chicago Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel won a sweeping victory Tuesday Night. In all, Emanuel won 40 of 50 Wards and the only ones to reject him were those controlled by the old guard; i.e. Ed Burke, Michael Madigan, the Beverly Area and the far Northwest Side where many of the city’s policemen and firemen reside which backed Gery Chico. Rahm Emanuel was able to to win every African-American ward comfortably and that would suggest that Black voters did not buy the arguments Carole Moseley-Braun brought to the table. If anything, they were turned off by Braun’s foot-in-mouth moments. The old guard politicians, meanwhile, showed how they still control their wards. What exactly that will mean down the line, will become clearer after the run-off elections on April 5th.

Rahm Emanuel, by winning outright, will now be able to spread some of his sizable war chest around to support select aldermanic elections. That will go a long way in shaping the next City Council and determine the amount of control he will have to begin his administration. Given earlier statements made during the debates, my guess is that Emanuel will be looking to diminish Ed Burke’s power in the council. But, Emanuel will need considerable support form the new council members.

Personally, giving Burke the proverbial boot and a little discomfort is a long time in coming. Ed Burke doesn’t like Rahm Emanuel and Emanuel doesn’t like Burke. Ed Burke is Chicago’s version of Michael Madigan and giving that much power to any individual is always detrimental to good government. The people’s agenda is much to often stifled by the whims of powerful individuals. How much legislation has been allowed to die in committee for no other reason than “I don’t like it, so it goes nowhere?” But, that is what it has been. Yet, people elect these obstructionists time and time again, much to the chagrin of the rest of the population. Perhaps one day there will be a wake up call resembling something other than a scene from “Groundhog Day” in Chicago Politics.

According to the Chicago Board of Elections, the voter turnout was a dismal 40%. That, to me, is not only surprising but sad. The people of Chicago had the opportunity to have their voices heard. Not only was there the mayoral election to consider, but nearly every ward was in play. If there was ever a chance to change the makeup of city governance, this was it. Yet, you cannot motivate people to come out? There is something fundamentally wrong with that scenario. A low turnout always favors the machine and their controlled vote.

I realize that Chicago voters are not as engaged as their counterparts in Iowa or Minnesota. Perhaps it is because our history is different from theirs or maybe it is because, contrary to public complaints suggesting otherwise, Chicagoans really don’t mind paying the extra corruption tax. For all I know, everyone that does business in the city, non-politician and politician alike, run their businesses in the exact same manner. Maybe the Chicago Way is the Chicago Way. I certainly don’t know any other way to explain the indifference.

One thing is certain, though. Chicago is at a precipice. Never in her storied history has she had as many woes as now. Dwindling revenues will have to be addressed and I suspect will bring even more pain to the people. Illinois, in general, is facing hard times and economic growth has been hampered by a stubborn economy. There is an aging infrastructure that needs to be addressed and without the necessary funds to spark the economy, it will only get worse before it gets better.

I don’t envy Rahm Emanuel and as he ascends to a position that he has always wanted (besides Speaker of the House), how will he be able to keep the promises he made without unleashing higher costs for everything? Unfortunately, that has always been the approach taken by the politicians in the city and state.

Mark my words, those “hard truths” that Rahm Emanuel was talking about while on the campaign trail was that the taxpayer will again be forced to sacrifice even more. Politicians will not look at reforming the system or cutting their wasteful spending habits. that has never been in the cards, nor will it be now. Nothing will change.

Then again, with barely a 40% turnout, how do you hold anyone accountable?

Better yet – who is ultimately responsible?

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  • I think Emanuel seemed like such a landslide, no one felt compelled to vote. (Not me, I voted, but it had more to do with a referendum I wanted passed in my area.)

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    That is understandable. Referendums are always put in on the "off elections." Glad you voted. But I wonder how many referendums there were? If they were citywide or not? If they were then it is sadder that such a low turnout resulted. Referendums are about direct money out of pocketbooks and that is THE election one shouldn't miss.

    Rahm was projected with this huge lead because the media anointed him. Ahh the power of the press.

  • Velvet must have the only explanation for the low turnout.

    As far as Rahm having the cash to maybe influence aldermanic runoffs, maybe the place to wield it is the 50th, except there it appears that it is the very old line machine against the wife of the new line machine--not a total outsider as 4 years ago. I'm sure though, that Rahm doesn't need Stone's help to govern, whatever Stone thinks.

    I also watched a bit of the Fox roundtable, and if the rest of the leaders of the African American community are as clueless as Cliff Kelly (who even called for a partisan general election, like anyone from his community was going to run as a Republican, once their consensus candidate wasn't the Democratic nominee), no wonder CMB hit the skids. CMB must also be shocked that only her poll gave her a shot at a runoff; she must have polled only women at 79th and Cottage. The rest of the polls were right, except that CMB got even less than they said.

    With regard to Burke, we'll have to see if Rahm has the balls to pull Burke's police detail, as threatened.

  • In reply to jack:

    Could be unless referendums were city wide. Then it would be really sad.

    Stone is an old coot who should have hung it up long ago. Besides, he adores Burke. Rahm has the balls - wait. There will be a pissing contest especially if he can influence the makeup of the council. I bet Burke will soon see the profane side of Rahmbo.

    CMB has the same thing Jackie Gleason had on the Honeymooners "A BIG MOUTH." She is one of the few candidates who can sabotage their own campaign in less than 30 days. As far as a non-partisan primary goes - I believe that was a Madigan / Cullerton masterstroke.

    They love disenfranchising Republicans.

  • In reply to maciric:

    With regard to profane, Craig Ferguson has the picture all the Chicago Now bloggers use (or at least American Princess of Rahm doing something with his hand and nose.

    As far as the nonpartisan election, it was noted that in southern states that were subject to Justice Department review of election law changes under the Voting Rights Act, such elections were to avoid the Harold Washington effect, i.e., the Black candidate getting about 34% in the primary being elected, because he only faced token opposition in the general election, and thus nonpartisan primaries were racist. However, that point never seemed to come up in Chicago.

    I previously mentioned that I thought Joe Morris was the only remaining Republican in the city, and the retrospectives indicate that the only effective (but not effective enough) Republican opposition to Richard J. Daley and Harold Washington were Hyde Park liberals (I remember Epton being portrayed as a racist just for being the last white man standing, after Daley and Byrne knocked each other out in the Democratic primary). So, I don't think Republicans were disenfranchised, just that the best they could get were more pragmatic Democrats like Richard M. and Rahm.

  • In reply to jack:

    I don't believe Chicago is devoid of Republicans, they are just in short supply. There are, however many Independents and as we know can swing an election. I think the non-partisan primary was brought up, but the mainstream media didn't want to expand on it. Clearly, a non-partisan primary in Chicago will benefit Democrats. That is indisputable.

    Poor Bernie Epton, I certainly remember his candidacy and thought him to be okay. Although I believe the uproar wasn't so much he was white as being a Jew. There was some nasty shit going on back then. By the way, I voted for Bernie!

    I have to disagree though, primaries need to remain separate. Uncontested General Elections are bullshit to begin with, besides you don't know what Independents would do in a General.

  • In reply to maciric:

    "Uncontested General Elections are bullshit to begin with..."

    Which, of course doesn't prevent them from happening, especially in North Shore legislative districts. Of course, we don't have contested village primaries, either, but something called the Caucus,* and if no one bucks the Caucus, the general isn't contested.

    If there are sufficient independent votes in Chicago, and I really doubt that, the County Assessor race shows the result--Berrios 47%, Claypool 32%, unknown Republican 12%. So, I do know what an "independent" has done in a General. Has there been in recent history any Republican Congressman in the city other than Flanagan, who was elected because Rosty's conviction was too fresh? Then that district brought us Blago, and then Rahm (the machine rolling over Nancy Kaszak).

    Also, as I mentioned it appeared that those who ran on the Republican ticket were "recent converts," to say the least. The business community, of course, was all in Daley's pocket, and probably also Rahm's.

    There hasn't been a Republican mayor in Chicago since Big Bill Thompson, and we aren't going to see another one.
    *Northbrook Caucus, although most North Shore communities are similar. Despite being high minded about being nonpartisan and representing the villages, internal politics still control there.

  • In reply to jack:

    I believe there are plenty of moderate Independents that tend to vote Republican. In the last decade Chicago Machine Politics has made it nearly impossible to run a GOPer anyway. With voter turnout hovering at 37% consistently, you know people are staying away and that isn't all apathy in a traditional sense - it is because there is no opposition to speak of. People who are opposed to Machine Politicians aren't going to come out for the sake of coming out. Like I said, you had six Democrats on a no partisan ballot. My gut feel is that there are approx. 10-15% of the population that identify with being a Republican. You have better than 30% as bonafide Independents. Even if insert the 10 to 15% into that number, you are talking a lot of people not voting for one simple reason.

  • In reply to maciric:

    Again, are you sure that those are the ones who aren't voting? Turnout was supposedly low all over the city, but you can bet that there are no Republicans or Independents south of Roosevelt Road, except for a couple of U of C profs, or if you consider Meeks to be "Independent," as he does.

    The Lakefront Liberals have always been Democrats (back to the Bill Singer days). Any Republicans in Beverly or the far Northwest Side are certainly outnumbered by the city workers, as the results there for Chico show.

  • In reply to jack:

    No - lets not twist it. But the point is there are many who just don't automatically pull the DEM lever. Sure there is the controlled vote and the family members who know someone working for the city, etc. etc. - but even the Lakefront Liberals have been known to rebel in their vote occasionally. I read somewhere, and I'll have to find it since it has been a while, that there are approx. 10-15% GOP voters in the city. But with little or no representation, or even a candidate on the ballot - they refuse to vote - period.

    I agree there are deep pockets of entrenched Democratic Wards, Beverly, Mt. Greenwood, etc.but you are avoiding the edges of the city where there is a more politically diverse group.

  • In reply to jack:

    At my polling place we have 2 precients voting out of this park and I was the only voter. That was when I realized that rahm had it. Chico needed a big turn out and didn't get the foot soldiers on the street. I think he waited to long in courting the unions if he really wanted their vote. No referendumbs( many are so silly)in my ward. We only had 4 slots to vote in and 40% was it? Wake up people you have more say than you think,it all starts with you. Republicans????? Where??? I think I saw a picture of one once at the Chicago History Museum....Let us see what April hold for us here in Chicago.

  • In reply to waterbill:

    That is truly sad Water.

    There are more Republicans (or Right Leaning Independents) in Chicago than you think and I know quite a few of them, but here is the deal - Madigan and his stooges wanted a non-partisan primary to discourage those people from voting. Add to the fact that 6 Democrats were on the ballot - well, maybe you get the picture. Stick in one Republican into a ballot like that and where do you think they would finish?

    Part of the low turnout had to do with Independents and those few GOPers not coming out because of a lack of real choice. In essence they were disenfranchised. I still say you need two separate primaries. We have few Democrats out my way, but they have their primary just the same. Over the last 5 years the DEM presence has also grown.

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