Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been elected is Chicago’s first Jewish mayor, garnering 55 percent of the vote in a five-way race on Feb. 22. The election was the first time in 20 years that incumbent Mayor Richard Daley did not appear on the ballot.
Because Emanuel received more than 50 percent of the vote, he will become mayor without the need for a runoff election in April.
Emanuel, 51, resigned in October 2010 as President Obama's chief of staff in order to run for mayor. He also worked in the Clinton White House and is a former congressman from Chicago's North Side. A Hebrew speaker, Emanuel is the son of an Israeli doctor who moved to the United States in the 1950s.
President Obama called Emanuel on the night of the election to congratulate him, reportedly saying, “As a Chicagoan and a friend, I couldn’t be prouder.”
“There is special pride within our Chicago Jewish community today because of Emanuel’s achievement,” commented JF/JUF President Steven B. Nasatir.
Emanuel faced a residency challenge during the campaign because he did not live in Chicago for a full year before the election; his candidacy was upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court.
Anti-Semitism also reared its head during the campaign, in remarks by fellow candidates and in flyers distributed on a train line that runs through the city.