Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

How Hard Is It To Defeat An Incumbent Mayor?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Bill Kresse, a Chicago Board of Elections hearing officer & St. Xavier University professor, explains the uphill battle Rahm Emanuel faces to get back on the ballot. (Published Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011)

    The next mayoral election is a little less than two years away and Rahm Emanuel looks like he might have a cake-walk reelection bid.

    No one seems to want to challenge him.

    Rahm Emanuel's Ballot Fight

    [CHI] Rahm Emanuel's Ballot Fight
    Bill Kresse, a Chicago Board of Elections hearing officer & St. Xavier University professor, explains the uphill battle Rahm Emanuel faces to get back on the ballot. (Published Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011)

    But Ward Room thought it would take a look at how hard it is to defeat an incumbent. Looked at all the mayoral elections since 1907, when the term was extended to four years, we found that most races were won by incumbents  -- but most incumbents not named Daley were defeated. Here’s the list:

    1907: Edward F. Dunne -- DEFEATED
    1911: Fred A. Busse -- NOT A CANDIDATE
    1915: Carter Harrrison Jr. -- NOT A CANDIDATE
    1919: William Hale Thompson -- WON
    1923: William Hale Thompson -- DEFEATED
    1927: William E. Dever -- DEFEATED
    1931: William Hale Thompson -- DEFEATED
    1935: Edward J. Kelly -- WON
    1939: Edward J. Kelly -- WON
    1943: Edward J. Kelly -- WON
    1947: Edward J. Kelly -- NOT A CANDIDATE
    1951: Martin Kennelly -- WON
    1955: Martin Kennelly -- DEFEATED
    1959: Richard J. Daley -- WON
    1963: Richard J. Daley -- WON
    1967: Richard J. Daley -- WON
    1971: Richard J. Daley -- WON
    1975: Richard J. Daley -- WON
    1977: Michael Bilandic -- WON SPECIAL ELECTION
    1979: Michael Bilandic -- DEFEATED
    1983: Jane Byrne -- DEFEATED
    1987: Harold Washington -- WON
    1989: Eugene Sawyer -- DEFEATED IN SPECIAL ELECTION
    1991: Richard M. Daley -- WON
    1995: Richard M. Daley -- WON
    1999: Richard M. Daley -- WON
    2003: Richard M. Daley -- WON
    2007: Richard M. Daley -- WON
    2011: Richard M. Daley -- NOT A CANDIDATE
    2015: Rahm Emanuel -- ????
    Incumbents have won 16 of the 26 elections in which they’ve run -- a 61 percent success rate. But incumbents not named Daley have won only six of their 15 re-election bids -- a lousy 40 percent. That ought to encourage anyone who wants to challenge Rahm Emanuel.

    Emanuel Casts His Ballot

    [CHI] Emanuel Casts His Ballot
    Rahm Emanuel talks about making a "fresh start" for the city after taking part in early voting Monday. Emanuel cast his ballot at a Chicago Public Library branch in the Austin neighborhood. (Published Monday, Jan 31, 2011)