As his poll numbers plummeted against a background of gun violence and tax hikes in Chicago, Rahm Emanuel sized up the tough and politically bruising reelection he had before him, only to potentially keep his seat and take on the city’s burdens to an ever-growing chorus of critics.
He said no.
According to a Tuesday Politico report, Emanuel was still the frontrunner in the campaign when he announced his withdrawal from the race on Tuesday.
“He agonized over it,” political ally and friend David Axelrod told Politico. “He didn’t make a decision until the last week and finally had to be honest with himself about whether it was good for him and good for the city to sign up for another four years. It’s a tough decision to make.”
Another factor that may have influenced his decision was the beginning of trial proceedings Tuesday for police officer Jason Van Dyke, accused of gunning down teenager Laquan McDonald. Emanuel’s administration has long been accused of suppressing dashboard video evidence of the shooting until after Emanuel’s 2015 reelection, and a potential acquittal for Van Dyke could spark protests in the city streets.
Still, Emanuel’s decision shocked his own staff as well as ambitious potential replacements in Chicago, who are now taking stock of their situation and competition.
“You had 10 people defining themselves against Rahm Emanuel, and now whoever runs has to present a positive view of the city,” Axelrod told Politico. “It’s not about beating Rahm. That’s probably healthy for the city.”