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 third-largest U.S. city as it prepares to chart a new course without the retiring Richard M. Daley.

With 97 percent of the precincts reporting, Emanuel had trounced five opponents with 55 percent of the vote — a margin that allowed him to avoid an April runoff. He needed more than 50 percent of the vote to win outright.

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 Daley among the candidates. Daley and his father have led Chicago for more than 43 out of the last 56 years.

Emanuel called the victory "humbling" and thanked Daley for his lifetime of service, saying the outgoing mayor had "earned a special place in our hearts and our history."