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A Christologically-themed runoff in Chicago: Emanuel vs. Jesus

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed in his bid to win a second term outright in yesterday's election. Instead he will face a runoff with County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

With 98% of the vote counted, Emanuel had 45.4% of the vote to Garcia's 33.0%. Businessman Willie Wilson had 10.6%, Second Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti had 7.4%, and perennial candidate William "Dock" Walls had 2.8%.

Nearly all the voters who reported themselves "undecided" in pre-election polls ended up going to Garcia.

I've frequently been critical of Emanuel, whose attempt to block Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant within the Chicago city limits because owner Dan Cathy had contributed to efforts to fight same-sex marriage represented an abuse of power which itself would merit the mayor's defeat, in my opinion. But the fact is, nevertheless, that Emanuel has taken on powerful special interests within the Cook County Democratic party- the Teachers' Union comes to mind- and exercised a remarkably responsible fiscal policy during his first term. He stands in sharp- and, frankly, refreshing- contrast to, for example, New York Mayor Bill di Blasio, who has pandered to special interests right and left.

Well, actually, only left.

Garcia represents the same wing of the Democratic party di Blasio and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) exemplify. The voters of Chicago have sided with the Teacher's Union in survey after survey, seem to resent Emanuel's fiscal restraint, and hold the mayor responsible for the spike in Chicago's murder rate during his term in office. And Emanuel's strong support from Chicago business leaders have earned him the nickname "Mayor 1 Percent" in far Left circles and making him a villain in the eyes of the Warren/di Blasio/Garcia wing of the Democratic party. Strong support from President Obama, whom Emanuel served as Chief-of-Staff in his first term, apparently didn't help much.

While I have a hunch that Emanuel will be re-elected in the April 7 runoff- his resources are deep, and his road to the 50%-plus-one he'll need much shorter than Garcia's- there is no question that he's in big trouble. And though I never thought I'd see the day, it appears that Chicago will select its next mayor, not on the ground of patronage or power politics, but of ideology and policy.

Who'da thunk it?

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