Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday that he will not seek a third term, shocking the Chicago political establishment.
With his wife by his side, Emanuel told reporters that while he found being Chicago’s mayor the “job of a lifetime,” unlike previous mayors he does not want to make it the only job of his lifetime.
“I’ve decided not to seek re-election,” Emanuel said. “This has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime.”
The Chicago Tribune calls the decision a “dramatic reversal,” and it is: Emanuel had already begun campaigning for his third term as mayor, kicking off a petition drive over the Labor Day weekend. He also has $10 million in a campaign bank account, the result of a fundraising blitz that began late last year.
But Rahm is not beloved. City reformers say the mayor has done a miserable job of cleaning up the city, improving the city’s finances, and handling a crime wave that saw more than 200 people shot in the month of August alone. He’s raised property taxes to cover the city’s building debt, and argued with state government over whether Chicago should take responsibility for its miserable financial situation.
He’s also not a darling of the far-Left. Rahm’s administration presided over a botched investigation into racism and a lack of accountability within the police department, and battled with the Chicago Teachers Union for control of the city’s education system.
Chicago isn’t likely to move on to bigger and better things, though; Emanuel’s only real challenger in the last election was from the Left — a true socialist — and the competitors for Emanuel’s mayoral title won’t be much better.
The decision does clear the way for Emanuel to take on another role, though: presidential candidate. He already has a head start, with solid fundraising numbers, and the assured backing of former President Barack Obama, Emanuel’s last boss. He has plenty of time to improve his public relations.
Emanuel will officially leave office in 2019.