Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said today that he does not seek to be re-elected to a third term in the Windy City. At a news conference, Emanuel said, “As much as I love this job, and will always love this city and its residents, I have decided not to seek re-election,” adding, “From the bottom of my heart, thank you, and God bless you.”
Emanuel, a stalwart Democrat who once served in the Obama White House, had never formally declared his candidacy for a third term. Last week, Emanuel was among several other candidates who were circulating nominating petitions to gather the 12,500 signatures needed to to appear on the ballot. Emanuel’s 1,400 volunteers — including Democratic ward committeemen, labor and community leaders — were circulating his petitions.
But even though he had been raising money, gathering signatures and putting a campaign infrastructure in place, Emanuel never formally declared his candidacy for a third term. The Emanuel campaign showed great promise: he had been raising money and putting together a campaign structure. Last week, he released the results of a poll funded by friend Michael Sacks, who is also the largest campaign contributor. Emanuel was shown to be favored to win a third term, contradicting polls commissioned by his detractors and despite widely-reported criminal violence, tax increases, and growing distrust in the black community over his handling of persistent violence and deep distrust among black voters tied to his handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting video.
“This has been the job of a lifetime but it is not a job for a lifetime," he said while his wife Amy stood at his side.
Emanuel’s announcement came as the trial begins for Officer Jason Van Dyke, who has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder following the shooting death of 17-year-old McDonald in 2015, which brought on a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the Chicago Police Department. Among the candidates for the mayoralty are former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, who Emanuel fired by Emanuel in the wake of the release of video of McDonald’s shooting death.
The 58-year-old former congressman Emanuel was forced into a historic runoff in his 2015 re-election campaign against Jesus "Chuy" Garcia. Because he is known as a successful fundraiser, and has $7.5 million in his political committee, Emanuel may yet not be done with politics.
"As a mayor, a congressman, and my first White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel has been a tireless and brilliant public servant," former president Barack Obama said in a statement. "I’ve been blessed to call Rahm my friend," Obama's statement read. "Whatever he chooses to do next, I know he’ll continue to make a positive difference, just as he has throughout his career in public service. And Michelle and I wish Rahm and Amy all the best as they consider this next phase in their lives."
Sen. Dick Durbin (R-Ill.) said Emanuel "left his mark."