CHICAGO | Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, easily overwhelming five rivals to take the helm of the nation's third-largest city as it prepares to chart a new course without the retiring Richard M. Daley.
With 89 percent of the precincts reporting, Mr. Emanuel was trouncing five opponents with 55 percent of the vote — a margin comfortably above the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid an April runoff.
It was the city's first mayoral race in more than 60 years without an incumbent on the ballot and the first in more than two decades without Mr. Daley among the candidates.
Mr. Daley and his father have led Chicago for more than 43 of the last 56 years.
Reginald Bachus, the 51-year-old pastor of a West Side church, said this was "a very critical time for Chicago."
"We really need a mayor who has vision. It's my personal opinion everyone else would have been a manager, and I think Rahm has vision," Mr. Bachus said.
The other major candidates — former Chicago schools president Gery Chico, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and City Clerk Miguel del Valle — had hoped to force a runoff, but were no match for Mr. Emanuel's momentum and money.
Mr. Chico had 24 percent of the vote, compared with 9 percent each for Mr. del Valle and Mrs. Moseley Braun. Two other lesser-known candidates each got about 1 percent.
Justin Blake, a 42-year-old black general contractor who chatted with Mr. Emanuel on Tuesday, said voting for him was a no-brainer because of Mr. Emanuel's "knowledge of what's going on, not only here locally, but worldwide."
"He's been right up there with the president. Why wouldn't you vote for somebody who's got that much collateral behind him?" Mr. Blake said.
Mark Arnold, 23, an auditor voting at a downtown polling place, said he is excited at the prospect of change.
"I think Daley's done a lot of good things, but at the same time, I just feel like the city right now, it's kind of like a good old boys' club," Mr. Arnold said, saying the election would bring in "someone with new ideas who's been in other places."
Mr. Emanuel's victory capped a campaign that included an unsuccessful legal challenge to try to keep him off the ballot over his residency. He had maintained a home in Chicago, but rented it out and did not live there while serving as President Obama's White House chief of staff.
The campaign began last fall when Mr. Daley — with his wife ailing, six terms under his belt and a future of fiscal challenges facing Chicago — announced he would not seek re-election.
Mr. Chico and Mrs. Moseley Braun swiftly conceded to Mr. Emanuel. Both were badly outspent in the campaign. An attempt to make Mrs. Moseley Braun the consensus candidate for the city's black voters fizzled.