THE CHI-TOWN LOW DOWN: Mayor Rahm Emanuel shows gratitude during runoff election

By Managing Editor

I got to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s election camp around 5 p.m. at the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington Blvd. April 7 to witness Chicago’s first-ever mayoral runoff election.

As I entered the building, Emanuel supporters handed me a press pass and showed me to a room filled with news cameras, an empty stage and a large banner that read, “Rahm for Chicago.” 

I walked past City Clerk Susana Mendoza, one of the only prominent Chicago figures I saw at the camp socializing with supporters well before the polls closed. 

Broadcast news reporters from local TV stations were preparing to go live as their producers handed them microphones and adjusted LED lights shining down on them. Print journalists from the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers crowded around two long tables in the back of the room with their laptops out as they refreshed news sites and poll numbers. 

I expected to see a plethora of people gathered on the dance floor toasting and cheering pending the excitement of a runoff election. However, the dance floor was empty. I thought I might run into Emanuel as he shook hands and took pictures with his crowd of supporters before the polls closed. But Emanuel wasn’t there. Someone at the camp told me he would not show up until everything was said and done because he wants his entrance to be grand, with all eyes on him.

I have been writing about the mayor for almost a year now, but I have never had the chance to speak with him or meet him in person. I was not even sure if I liked him or not based on the things I have heard, but I gathered that I would have an opinion of his character after attending his party. 

A band assembled as supporters trickled into the room. Although the crowd was still small, the band began playing and an older man and woman wearing shirts that said “Rahm love” danced together.

Supporters completely filled the room by 7 p.m. as the polls closed and the numbers began rolling in. The crowd, full of different ethnicities, backgrounds, neighborhoods and cultures, danced and cheered for Emanuel as though he was their best friend or relative, surely not the harsh and cold man that Chicagoans describe as their mayor. 

After waiting four hours for Emanuel, he finally arrived. Although I thought he would come off as entitled and would brush off his tense rivalry with challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia like it was nothing, he seemed thankful as if a weight was lifted off of his shoulders.

Emanuel smiled uncontrollably as he waited for the roaring crowd to silence. He admitted to his mistakes and told  attendees about his future plans for Chicago. He thanked the crowd repeatedly for reelecting him. It appears that Emanuel  has turned over a new leaf for a second term, but will it last?