(Politico) – A runoff that was expected to be a slam dunk for Rahm Emanuel is turning out to be uncomfortably — even dangerously — close, leading the Chicago mayor to ready a scorched-earth offensive to save his job.
Recent polling shows the race between Emanuel and his unknown and underfunded rival, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, has closed to within single digits. With local and national progressive groups lining up behind Garcia and promising to pour cash into the effort to deny Emanuel a second term, the mayor is suddenly scratching and clawing for his political existence.
“In Chicago, politics is a contact sport, and it looks like we’re going to have one of those full-contact battles,” said Bill Daley, a former White House chief of staff whose father and brother each served as Chicago mayor for more than 20 years.
Emanuel — once thought to be a shoo-in in the April 7 runoff — plans to launch an ad campaign in the coming days intended to discredit Garcia and cast him as a do-nothing pol who’s accomplished little during his two decades in public service, according to sources close to the mayor. The commercials will also present the mayor, who’s come under fire for closing underperforming schools in hardscrabble neighborhoods and for hiking taxes to close the city’s budget deficit, as someone who is willing to make tough decisions even if they aren’t popular.