Rahm Emanuel Says He Won’t Run for Re-Election

(Bloomberg) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stunned the nation’s third-largest city by announcing Tuesday that he won’t seek re-election next year, a move that threatens to trigger a political free-for-all and rattle bond investors.

His decision came on the eve of a murder trial where a white Chicago police officer is accused of repeatedly shooting a black teenager -- a case that encapsulated Emanuel’s struggle to improve public safety in a city President Donald Trump has ridiculed with his tough-on-crime rhetoric.

“As much as I love this job and will always love this city and its residents, I’ve decided not to seek re-election,’’ the 58-year-old mayor told reporters during a City Hall news conference, flanked by his wife, Amy Rule. “This has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime.’’

Emanuel’s departure also raises uncertainty for investors who have applauded his work to right the junk-rated city’s finances. For years, Chicago hadn’t paid enough into its four retirement funds, and the strain had been weighing on the city’s ability to provide services to residents.

Dennis Derby, a portfolio manager at Wells Fargo Asset Management, which holds $39 billion of municipal debt, including Chicago bonds, lamented the decision by Emanuel, calling him “a very good partner to investors.” Derby praised Emanuel and Chief Financial Officer Carole Brown and her predecessor Lois Scott for their work that “dramatically improved the fiscal position of the city.”

“They’ve inherited a number of problems and they have dealt with all the fiscal problems head on,” Derby said, “and have given investors a great deal more confidence in the city.’’

Fiscal Fixes

As mayor, Emanuel enacted higher property taxes and utility levies as part of a series of steps to shore up Chicago’s retirement funds. Moody’s Investors Service, which had cut Chicago’s rating to below investment grade in 2015, raised the city’s outlook to stable in July, citing some of the work of Emanuel’s administration. S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings consider the city’s bonds investment-grade.

Under Emanuel’s tenure, more than 50 companies have relocated their headquarters to Chicago, according to World Business Chicago, an economic development board. The city is a finalist in the competition to host a second headquarters for Amazon.

Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff and a former Chicago congressman, has been in office for more than seven years and had been raising money ahead of next year’s election. In the second quarter alone, his campaign took in more than $6 million, according campaign finance disclosures.

Among the dozen challengers he was facing were his former police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, and former Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas. Few in the field are viewed as political heavyweights.

McCarthy was fired by Emanuel in the wake of the release of a video showing the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014. The incident brought calls for Emanuel’s resignation, and the mayor’s announcement arrived the same week that the murder trial of police officer Jason Van Dyke is expected to start.

At times, both Emanuel and his wife appeared to be holding back tears.

“Together since May of 2011, through thick and thin, we tried to do right by our city’s future,’’ Emanuel said. "No matter how difficult the path we never wavered or shrunk from our responsibilities, and I will never forget the honor it has been to serve alongside you, the people of Chicago, every step of the way.’’

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