More money, low turnout make it automatic for Emanuel victory

15 Feb

Political panelists James Houlihan, Bruce Dold, Cynthia Canary and Mick Dumke respond to comments from the event's moderator, Thom Serafin (foreground). (Photo by Len Kody)

By Chris Dubiel

(The following is an opinion piece by Chris Dubiel, a junior in the College of Communication at DePaul University.)

A majority of students felt that Rahm Emanuel would win the mayoral election by the end of a recent political panel discussion that took place at DePaul University’s Loop Campus. People sharing this thought will probably neglect to vote, while they really should go to the polls in an effort to change politics as usual.

Chicago will vote for a new mayor Feb. 22 and people are already finding that this election may not need their vote because it has a predetermined winner, according to polls, in Rahm Emanuel. Although this particular election will be historic because Chicago will have an entirely new mayor, like many times before, people will stay home on Election Day because they feel the race is already won.

“We are on a continuous treadmill of candidates,” said former Cook County Assessor James Houlihan. “There’s a cycle of cynicism that continues and grows.”

Because Emanuel has raised a significantly larger amount of money than the other candidates, he has been able to dominate the campaign trail with his ads. He seems omnipresent as he appears all over television, yard signs and the Internet. “Rahm has been known as a masterful fundraiser and he’s proven it again here,” said Cynthia Canary, the executive director of Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Emanuel has proven his ability to raise money as he has earned about $11 million in campaign funds, according to Canary. The next closest candidate, Gery Chico raised about $2 million, making advertising competition weak compared to Emanuel. By being the most prominent in advertising and media, Emanuel has gained supporters.

“I don’t think we’ll have a run-off [election,]” said Houlihan. “The inevitability of Rahm’s election drives everyone to be with the winner.”

The former Cook County assessor also felt that Emanuel would not see too much competition at the polls because Chicagoans would choose the favorite. Besides the voters siding with the media favorite, many others, disenfranchised or disinterested, will not even participate in the election, which whittles more of Emanuel’s competition.

“I’m not getting the sense that this is a high-enthusiasm election,” said Canary.

If people are not getting excited about what is at stake, no one will vote. If no one votes, Emanuel will seemingly win easily and become mayor without a run-off. However, the disinterest from the public allows Emanuel off the hook.

“Emanuel has so much money, he is using all of the tools at his disposal,” said Canary. “He is running a produced campaign as he is avoiding debates and forums.”

Using these tactics, Emanuel is avoiding putting himself in public too much so he does nothing to hurt his image. If people were not paying attention to the entire campaign, they don’t know that he skipped on events.

The people of Chicago need not only to go out and vote, but also to pay attention to the campaign, so that they do not allow money and politics as usual to decide the election.

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