Despite angling to become the “consensus black candidate,” former U.S. Senator and ambassador Carol Moseley Braun failed to galvanize African American support in hopes of becoming the city’s third black mayor and first black woman to hold the post in Tuesday’s election.
Mosley Braun, elected in 1992 as the nation’s first-and still only-black female United States senator, came in fourth place in Tuesday’s mayoral race. She racked up just over 52,000 votes, or 9 percent. Gery Chico and Miguel del Valle came in second and third respectively.
But Chicagoans can call him “Mr. Mayor” now, as Rahm Emanuel won handily with more than 321,000 votes, or 55 percent.
Mosley-Braun’s campaign was marred by allegations and questions about her personal finances and temperament, while Emanuel was temporarily kicked off the ballot because of residency issues but was eventually allowed back on. Mosley-Braun, a Chicagoan and former Cook County Recorder of Deeds, conceded the race late Tuesday evening.
Emanuel was joined by supporters at the Stephen M. Bailey Auditorium in the West Loop to watch the returns and celebrate his eventual victory. They chanted his name and cheered loudly when the results were released. For many, Emanuel’s 55 percent meant more than their favorite candidate being elected.
For 13-year-old Summer Hale, who said she feared Braun would win and close down her charter school, that meant the potential for “more after-school and in-school programs … and keeping kids off the streets.”
Mosley-Braun had maintained throughout the campaign her support for public education while also questioning the city’s charter school system.
The promise of an improved education system was also the reason Megan Mathias celebrated Rahm’s victory Tuesday. Mathias, an attorney and single parent, said her 6-year-old son, who attends the Chicago Public Schools system, will benefit.
“I think everything’s going to change because he’s not the type of person that’s going to cave to the typical local pressure. He’s bigger than that.”
Emanuel will be sworn in on May 16. He will become the first new mayor in Chicago since Richard M. Daley took office 22 years ago.
Having left his post as President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff, Emanuel overcame residency and ballot issues to sweep to an outright victory. Rounding out the mayoral race were Patricia Van Pelt Watkins and William “Dock” Walls, each garnering less than 2 percent of the vote.
Amarita Bansal contributed to this story