Emanuel Avoids Runoff, Wins Mayor's Job In Chicago

Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has been elected mayor of Chicago. To win outright, Emanuel needed slightly more than 50 percent of the vote, and he captured 55 percent.

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Rahm Emanuel left Washington and his job as the White House chief of staff to run for mayor of Chicago. And last night he beat five opponents to win that election. He will now replace retiring mayor Richard Daley starting in May. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

Mayor-elect RAHM EMANUEL (Democrat, Chicago): Thank you, Chicago.

CHERYL CORLEY: Rahm Emanuel told a cheering crowd of supporters they certainly knew how to make a guy feel at home. A reference perhaps to the unsuccessful court challenges of his eligibility to run for mayor based on residency.

With his win he makes history on a number of fronts. He will become Chicago's first Jewish mayor. And he won a race where there was no incumbent on the ballot for the first time in more than 60 years. During his victory speech, Emanuel said for a whole generation of Chicagoans Richard Daley is the only mayor they've known.

Mayor-elect EMANUEL: And let's be honest, it's an impossible act to follow. Yet, we have to move forward. And we know that we face serous new challenges.

CORLEY: Like a six hundred million dollar city budget deficit. Emanuel got a congratulatory phone call from President Obama, who also said in a statement he couldn't prouder of his former chief of staff.

Obama political advisor David Axelrod says that relationship doesn't mean Chicago will get any special favors, though, when Emanuel becomes the mayor.

Mr. DAVID AXELROD (Political advisor, President Obama): Obviously the president has great affection for this city, his hometown, but he has to be fair as well. But whatever the city's entitled to the city will get. And I don't think Rahm'll leave one dollar on the table.

CORLEY: Emanuel won the race to become Chicago's next mayor with more than 55 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff election.

Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.

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