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With Chicago enduring daunting levels of gun violence, a $36 billion public worker pension crisis and discontent in some corners of the city’s African-American population with his leadership, polls showed Emanuel faced a difficult, but not insurmountable, path to re-election.
A poll commissioned by one of Emanuel’s campaign backers and published last month showed that the mayor had backing of about 32 percent of voters in the crowded field – and a 19-point lead over his closest competitor, former police superintendent Garry McCarthy, but not enough to face avoid a runoff. The poll was conducted by New York-based Global Strategy Group.
Emanuel, a former congressman who served as chief of staff in the Obama White House and a senior aide in the Clinton White House, last faced voters in 2015, several months before the release of a controversial police shooting video of Laquan McDonald.
The Emanuel administration was forced by court order to make the video public 400 days after the fatal shooting of McDonald and several months after the mayor had won re-election. The mayor’s critics argue that Emanuel, who saw his support erode in the city’s large African-American community following the video’s release, would not have won re-election had it come out earlier.
Emanuel said he did not watch the video, which appears to show that the 17-year-old McDonald was veering away from officers when he was shot 16 times by officer Jason Van Dyke, until it was set to be publicly released.
The officer was charged with first-degree murder on the same day of the video’s release.
Emanuel made his bombshell announcement one day before jury selection was set to begin in Van Dyke’s trial.
Will Chicago finally get a mayor who cares as much about the public schools as Rahm cared about charter schools?
Will the school closings end?
Will the public get to have a role in public education and the choice of the school board?