In a runoff election that many political insiders said two months ago would never happen, Rahm Emanuel won out over challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. But despite winning another four years, Emanuel fell far short of defeating the broad-based grassroots coalition represented by Garcia’s candidacy.
Progressive Issues Resonate with Voters, City Council Progressive Caucus Grows
CHICAGO - In a runoff election that many political insiders said two months ago would never happen, Rahm Emanuel won out over challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. But despite winning another four years, Emanuel fell far short of defeating the broad-based grassroots coalition represented by Garcia’s candidacy.
Tonight’s election result can not erase the fact that an energized progressive coalition of teachers, working families, and grassroots neighborhood activists forced Rahm Emanuel, a paragon of Wall Street Democrats and entrenched political insider, into a runoff election, the first in Chicago history. The facade of the untouchable Rahm Emanuel and air of invincibility is gone and it is not coming back.
Grassroots Illinois Action played a key role in the runoff election, mobilizing working families into permanent year round political committees in wards across the city. Between February 25th to April 7th, organizers mobilized volunteers to knock on 49,144 doors, equating to over 2,800 hours of volunteer time. In addition, 16 organizing interns spent GOTV weekend identifying and recruiting residents to be part of building Grassroots Illinois Action ward committees for the long haul.
Ultimately Rahm Emanuel was able to buy another four years as Mayor of Chicago, but Emanuel’s victory cost high-profile donors like Ken Griffin more than just their money. Rahm Emanuel was forced to back off of many of the policies favored by his elite corporate backers partially capitulating to low wage worker demands for a higher minimum wage, unplugging many red light cameras, and running a slew of commercials targeted to working families with a left message frame. He spent the last four years governing as a corporate Democrat, but he won re-election campaigning as a progressive.
"Tonight Rahm Emanuel came out on top in the polls, but the real winner is the progressive coalition that forced this runoff to even happen in the first place," explains Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Illinois Action. "We now have a larger progressive caucus, despite Emanuel’s attempt to dismantle it. Our neighborhoods, that previously have been disinvested in and marginalized, for the first time in a long time stretched their political muscle. The reawakening of a broad base progressive coalition will have political consequences well beyond this election. We are only going to grow stronger from here."
Even without taking the Mayor’s seat, the growing strength of Chicago’s progressive movement can be seen in the expansion of the City Council Progressive Caucus despite Emanuel's attempt to unseat them. GIA-endorsed Progressive Cacucs members Toni Foulkes, 16th Ward and John Arena, 45th Ward both won their runoff races. Two Alderman-elects, Carlos Rosa, 35th Ward and David Moore, 17th Ward have both committed to joining the Progressive Cacucus. In addition, serveral Aldermanic races are yet to be called that could potentialy expand the caucus even furthur.
Grassroots Illinois Action will continue to work with its partners and allies to build for working families in Chicago, including mobilizing for a massive national day of action in support of a $15 minimum wage on April 15th.