On Tuesday, you could say Chicago’s neighborhood voters gave Mayor Rahm Emanuel something he’s been missing for a long time — the middle finger.
Down in the 10th Ward — in working-class Hegewisch, South Chicago and the East Side that have long been a stronghold for incumbent mayors — Emanuel only scored 38 percent of the vote.
In the soccer-mom country that is the 47th Ward, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 51 percent was about 15 percentage points fewer than four years ago.
Rahm didn’t win a majority in the 9th Ward — home of the Pullman National Monument newly minted by his pal President Barack Obama in last week’s made-for-campaign-commercial visit.
And he failed to win a majority of the votes down in Bridgeport’s 11th Ward, the land of mayors named Daley — the South Side Irish family that gave Emanuel his political start.
And despite overwhelming support in the city’s richest and least diverse wards that include Lincoln Park, River North and Wrigleyville, the so-called “Anybody-But-Rahm” movement forced the first mayoral runoff since the end of political primaries.
Election Night made it perfectly clear — this is no longer Mayor Daley’s Chicago.
At Plumbers Hall, you could see it on the sad, shell-shocked faces of Emanuel staffers left over from the Daley days.
One of them put it this way, “Ick.”
Even the mayor’s campaign-strained voice cracked when he conceded to the rather subdued crowd that there would be six more weeks of campaigning before he'll square off with Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia on April 7.
Pundits would like to think that after spending about $8 million in campaign cash and failing to seal an early victory against political nobodies, Mayor Emanuel might be humbled. They’d be wrong.
“Humble? Look, a leopard doesn’t change his spots,” a guy who knows a thing or two about these things told me.
But Tuesday’s election sent Emanuel a message that his run-and-gun, get 'er done, mayor-knows-best management style could use a tuneup that incorporates a lot more empathy. And if the mayor wants some of the 55 percent of Chicagoans who didn’t vote for him to support him in the final showdown, the mayor might want to consider repackaging his well-rehearsed message in a different political tone, the longtime political insider said.
Even before all the votes were counted Tuesday night, all of Chicago could hear that unfamiliar sound — the voice of the voiceless — a guttural grumble bubbling up from far-flung neighborhood outposts that have either been forsaken or taken for granted by the Democratic machine for too long.
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