Rahm’s Expensive Win

So in a result all the late polls predicted, Rahm Emanuel won a second term as Mayor of Chicago via an eleven-point runoff victory over Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Turnout was mediocre, but not as bad as it was in the first round. The crucial factor–other than Garcia’s inability to break through in the African-American precincts–was probably Rahm’s 6-to-1 funding advantage, which enabled him to run a heavy ad rotation raising questions about the challenger’s qualifications and plans for the city.

There was a notable lack of joy in the Mayor’s camp last night, reflecting his runoff campaign’s subcurrent of regret for the abrasive tone he set during his first term. It’s not often you hear this kind of talk from a close adviser to a politician:

As the mayor had lunch Tuesday afternoon at Manny’s, an iconic political hangout in the South Loop, close friend and political strategist David Axelrod talked about the importance of Emanuel airing the TV ads in which he alluded to voter frustration and admitted he could do better.

“I think it was important for people to hear it, but I think it’s also important for him to act on it. I don’t think that the message of those ads should end at 7 o’clock on election night,” said Axelrod, a former White House senior adviser and campaign strategist to President Barack Obama. “For his success in the next four years, he needs to take to heart the message that voters were sending. I don’t think they wanted him not to be the mayor, but they wanted him to be a more inclusive mayor. And he’d be foolish not to take that to heart.”

We’ll see if it sticks.

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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.