In Washington, he’s the campaign mastermind who reportedly mused about a 2016 presidential run if Hillary Clinton takes a pass. In Chicago, he’s the ham-fisted gentrifer who’s been tripped up by the city’s entrenched racial politics…
When Emanuel exited the Beltway in late 2010 to run for Chicago mayor, he had the tacit backing of a current president and the overt support of a former one. He won the race to succeed Richard M. Daley, and expectations ran high that Washington’s supreme enforcer was just the person to tame the Wild Midwest.
Now, just nine months out from the next election, Emanuel is unexpectedly vulnerable, with an approval rating that is perilously low. The comedown for the Illinois native, who terrified staffers and donors over more than a decade in Washington, has been striking. So has been the contrast between how he’s regarded in D.C., New York and Los Angeles — as opposed to some wards of Chicago.
A Chicago Sun-Times poll released last month showed that Emanuel would draw just 29 percent of the vote if the election were held then. His 8 percent showing in the survey among black voters, a crucial voting bloc for him last time, creates a truck-size hole for another candidate to drive through.