Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he won’t run for reelection in stunning move

  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday he won’t seek reelection for a third term in 2019.
  • Emanuel, who took office in 2011, was a Democratic congressman and former chief of staff to President Barack Obama.
  • His eight-year tenure as mayor was marked by controversies over education policy and police violence.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday he won’t seek a third term in 2019, a decision the Chicago Tribune called a “dramatic political reversal.”

Emanuel said Tuesday that being mayor “has been the job of a lifetime but it’s not a job for a lifetime.” The Tribune says he had already raised more than $10 million for another run for a four-year term.

Emanuel, 58, was a Democratic congressman and chief of staff to President Barack Obama before becoming mayor in 2011. He followed Richard M. Daley, who was mayor for more than 20 years.

Obama called Emanuel a “tireless and brilliant public servant” in a Tuesday statement released after the announcement of his retirement.

“With record job growth and record employment over his terms in office, Chicago is better and stronger for his leadership, and I was a better President for his wise counsel at a particularly perilous time for our country,” Obama wrote.

Emanuel’s eight-year tenure was marked by a series of controversies over his leadership. He was resoundingly criticized for his 2013 decision to close 50 public schools on Chicago’s South Side, but successfully introduced universal pre-K and two years of tuition-free community college for public school graduates in Chicago.

His City Hall also came under scrutiny for its handling of the shooting of Lacquan MacDonald by a Chicago police officer, which prompted a civil rights investigation by the Department of Justice and calls for his resignation.

In the wake of the shooting, however, Emanuel took steps to reform police department practices, including bringing in a new superintendent and requiring officers to wear body cameras.

The Tribune reports that 12 candidates have already announced their intention to run to replace Emanuel.

“I’ve been blessed to call Rahm my friend,” Obama said. “Whatever he chooses to do next, I know he’ll continue to make a positive difference, just as he has throughout his career in public service. “