Election Day in Chicago

I have not been following the mayoral election in Chicago, where voters are going to the polls today. But the big question nationally is whether Mayor Rahm Emanuel can get over the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff (Chicago utilizes the jungle primary system for its major municipal offices, though the city’s so Democratic it barely matters) against four opponents, the strongest of whom is likely Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a Cook County commissioner who is pursuing a decidedly left-bent challenge to Emanuel.

While there are plenty of purely local issues in the race (notably Emanuel’s unpopular traffic camera initiative, and the incumbent’s many battles with teachers unions), it’s being framed nationally as a possible replica to Bill de Blasio’s challenge to the economic powers-that-be in New York.

Since the president has endorsed Rahm (he personally campaigned for the mayor during the last week), and Hizzoner is also very tight with the Clintons, a poor performance today would add fuel to the fire of protests against a Clinton-Obama hegemony in the Democratic Party that’s too cozy with the financial sector and too disinterested in doing anything concrete about economic inequality. Polls show Emanuel very close to 50%, and the CW is that Obama’s visit might have put him over the top; Garcia has not been doing terribly well in polls among African-American voters, despite his close association with the late mayor Harold Washington. As always in municipal races, turnout will be crucial, and early voting levels have been high. Any thoughts you have–particularly if you are a Chicagoan–about this contest are more than welcome in the comments thread.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.