Rahm Emanuel’s toughest vote in the Chicago mayoral race may be behind him. Since the Illinois Supreme Court overruled an appellate court and placed Emanuel back on the ballot, new polls show him dominating the field and hovering around the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff election.
In a Tribune/WGN poll released today, 49% of Chicagoans said they intended to vote for Emanuel, giving him an enormous 30 point lead on his closest challenger, Gery Chico, the former Chicago Board of Education president. A survey conducted by Chicago’s ABC affiliate pegged Emanuel’s support even higher, as it found him leading Chico by 40 points, 54% to 14%.
A candidate must receive at least half of the vote to win the February 22 election outright. If no candidate reaches that threshold, the top two vote-getters will face off in a special election in April.Should the election head to a run off, it would be the latest twist in what has already been a wild election.
Emanuel resigned as President Obama’s chief of staff specifically to move back to Chicago and run for what he’s said is his dream job. Yet his opponents, citing a law that requires candidates to be residents of the city for a year prior to the election, argued that Emanuel was ineligible to run since he’d been living in Washington while serving in the Obama administration.
After months of legal wrangling, a lower court initially ruled in Emanuel’s favor. Yet that decision was then overruled by an appellate court, sending the Emanuel campaign scrambling to reinstate his name with only weeks until the election. The state Supreme Court immediately took up the case, overturning the appeals court’s decision in a sharply worded ruling that placed Emanuel back on the ballot.