Rahm Emanuel, the former congressman and chief of staff to president Obama and now mayor of Chicago, represents the worst elements of the Democratic party, someone who is authoritarian and slavish in his devotion to the oligarchy. He had been a leader in the effort to destroy the Chicago public schools and hand them over to private interests and has been brazen in his favoring of cronies using the funds of the city.
Hence I was delighted that his campaign for re-election to a second term, which was expected to be a cakewalk, has turned into a battle, with him failing on Tuesday to get the 50% he needed to win outright despite outspending his opponents by a huge margin to run misleading and dishonest commercials and being endorsed by the president. He now faces a run-off election on April 7 against the second place finisher Jesus “Chuy” García.
Who is this Garcia who entered the race late and whom few had heard of before?
In the weeks ahead, Garcia said he plans to further draw out his personal narrative — one that he said he thinks is reflective of Chicago’s mosaic of neighborhoods.
Born in Durango, Mexico, Garcia moved to Chicago after his father — a migrant worker who came to the United States through the World War II-era bracero program — gained permanent residency for the family. He got his first taste of organizing when he and other high school students organized a picket line around a seedy theater in his southwest side neighborhood.
Garcia is no stranger to Chicago politics. He currently serves on the Cook County Board of Commissioners and previously served on Chicago’s City Council and in the Illinois General Assembly. He came late to the mayor’s race after Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis — both of whom polls showed would have provided Emanuel with a tough race — considered but opted not to mount challenges.
Garcia’s surprise showing has invigorated progressives who are giving him a second look because of the chance to get rid of the odious Emanuel. Rick Perlstein looks at the many reasons for Emanuel’s decline and why he should be defeated.