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The dreams of two Latino candidates who fought uphill battles to become Chicago's first Latino mayor were dashed, falling short to front-runner Rahm Emanuel, who the historic election with 55 percent of the vote.
Gery Chico and Miguel del Valle bowed out gracefully after getting pounced by Emanuel, whose reported $13 million in fundraising, overwhelming name recognition and big ticket endorsements turned out to be too much to overcome.
Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, avoided a runoff in April by securing more than 50 percent of the vote.
Chico congratulated Emanuel on his victory.
"I want with all my heart for Rahm Emanuel to be successful," said Chico, the former Chicago Board of Education president, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Let's all work together to get behind the new mayor and make this the best city on the face of the Earth."
Del Valle, the city clerk, urged his supporters to continue the grassroots movement.
“What will be your role?” del Valle asked a crowd of supporters at his campaign’s Election Night party at Revolution Brewing restaurant, according to a statement released by his campaign. “We’ve started something here. All the young people in this room--there are future leaders here, I know that.”
The election capped a months-long campaign with twists and turns. After longstanding mayor Richard Daley announced that he would not seek reelection, a scramble to replace him quickly ensued – offering a rare opportunity in Chicago to run on a ballot without an incumbent.
Emanuel entered the fray with great fanfare. His election hit a speed bump because of residency problems – he was temporarily knocked off the ballot until a State Supreme Court ultimately decided he was eligible to run.
In the end, Emanuel's heavyweight campaign proved too formidable.
With his win, he became the city's first Jewish mayor.
"Thank you, Chicago, for this humbling victory," Emanuel said, according to The Associated Press. "You sure know how to make a guy feel at home."
Del Valle, meanwhile, said that Chicago still needs fundamental changes, and that work needs to start on the streets, not in City Hall.
“Give it time,” he said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. But I have been inspired by the number of people who want change in this city. And we’re not going to get that change without organizing our neighborhoods.”
You can reach Wil Cruz at firstname.lastname@example.org.