CHICAGO (AP) -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel hopes to avoid being forced into a runoff when voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to give the former White House chief of staff a second term.
Emanuel is poised to get the most votes after having raised millions of dollars, plastering the airwaves with ads and winning an endorsement from his former boss, President Barack Obama. However, his four challengers say Emanuel's tenacious style and handling of some major city issues have left voters wanting a change.
He needs more than 50 percent to win re-election outright in the nonpartisan race. Otherwise, he'll have to go head-to-head with the runner up, which could be embarrassing for the incumbent, who enjoys not only a huge financial advantage but the backing of business leaders and the endorsement of the city's major newspapers.
Emanuel has campaigned on the idea that his tested leadership is what the city needs.
"You gave me a chance to make the tough decisions this city needed, and we've improved our schools, our infrastructure, and our public safety," he told supporters in an email Monday. "But there's more work to be done."
The Democrat is facing Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia, Alderman Bob Fioretti, businessman Willie Wilson and perennial candidate William Walls.
They've put Emanuel on the defensive over his handling of a contract dispute that led to Chicago's first teachers' strike in 25 years, the closing of nearly 50 neighborhood schools and a spike in violent crime. They have also criticized his sometimes-combative style.
"In Chicago neighborhoods, people are largely turned off," Garcia said. "They have found him to be distant and uncaring, not really engaging in neighborhoods."
But Emanuel has said he made decisions that helped the city and challenged the status quo. He's countered claims by taking a neighborhood-focused approach to the campaign trail, including talking up his push to increase the city's minimum wage, from $8.25 to $13 by 2019.