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Running against Rahm means running for the mayoral runoff

Now that Alderman Bob Fioretti has announced he’s running for mayor, it’s a good time to remind you—once again—that we have a runoff system for electing mayors in Chicago.

That is, mayoral candidates have to win more than 50 percent of the vote to get elected.

I know a lot of folks don’t realize this because I’ve been getting calls and e-mails exclaiming that Fioretti and Karen Lewis—should she actually jump into the race—will split the anti-Rahm vote.

And this, they say, will guarantee the reelection of Mayor Emanuel, who will be free to fire all the librarians, teachers, and janitors he hasn’t already fired.

I understand why so many Chicagoans are confused.

As much as I love this city and its residents, I must concede that once an idea gets fixed in our brains, it’s very hard to extricate or alter it.

In this case, our fundamental impression of Chicago politics goes back to the legendary three-candidate Democratic mayoral primary of 1983—which was before some of you were even born.

That’s when Harold Washington (the “black candidate”) eked out a victory because Jane Byrne and Richie Daley (the “white candidates”) split the white vote.

The takeaway for Chicagoans—white as well as black—was most definitely not to bridge the differences between the races so we can all just get along.