Rhymefest, the Chicago rapper perhaps best known for his early work with Kanye West, fell short last night in his bid to become alderman of the Windy City's 20th Ward. Incumbent Willie Cochran held the seat with 54.6 percent of the vote, but 'Fest went out with an impressive showing, earning the support of 45.4 percent of voters, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In February, the Grammy-winning rapper forced yesterday's runoff election when neither he nor Cochran was able to secure 50 percent of the vote.
Rhymefest's (real name Che Smith) campaign suffered bumps in the road when it was revealed that he had been arrested in 2006 on a gun charge. The rapper had already struggled to meet initial requirements to get on the ballot and beat back skepticism that his campaign was merely a gimmick.
Last week, Mayor-elect and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel may have driven the final nail in the coffin when he officially endorsed the Cochran campaign. But Rhymefest thinks a more nefarious scheme is to blame. Speaking to the local ABC News affiliate yesterday, 'Fest alleged voter fraud.
"We want to ensure that it's fair and that every vote is counted, and that people who didn't live in the ward of vacant lots weren't people who were voting. We want to make sure that the 20th Ward voices were heard," he said.
"We concede nothing."
Rhymefest and his attorney have requested a closer look at turnout and registration data and are weighing their options in court. Alderman Cochran denies any conspiracy.
"This was won in the field, in the battlefield," he said.
(Photo: John Ricard/Retna Ltd.)