At least one candidate for mayor says he is confident that the February 22, mayoral elections will result in a runoff. To avoid a runoff the top candidate will have to secure at least 50% of the vote. Former Chicago Board of Education president Gery Chico is using the final weeks of his campaign to try to distinguish himself from the race’s frontrunner, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, especially in regards to where the two candidates are from. At a forum last night sponsored by the Urban League and televised on WFLD-Fox 32, Chico reminded voters that he grew up in the working class Back of the Yards neighborhood. He said Emanuel grew up in the wealthy North Shore area. In an effort to drive home the point, Chico made a campaign stop Friday at Nueva Leon restaurant in the Pilsen neighborhood, where he said, “You are where you come from.”
A recent Chicago Tribune/WGN poll shows Emanuel with 49 percent of the vote and Chico at 19 percent, up three points from earlier polls. Chico edged up with African American voters since the last Tribune/WGN poll. African American candidate Carol Moseley Braun appears to have lost traction with voters, dropping to 10 percent in a Tribune poll. City Clerk Miguel Del Valle is polling at 8 percent, and Patricia Van Pelt Watkins and William “Dock” Walls each have one percent of support from voters.
When asked whether his improved ratings in the polls had given him a new sense of urgency in the race, Chico said that urgency was nothing new for his campaign.
“We operate with a sense of urgency every day. For us this is a sense of urgency we’ve had for months,” he said.
Chico said he will continue campaigning 16 hour a day, across the city in hopes of securing enough votes to make it into a runoff with Emanuel.
With 12 percent of voters undecided, it’s unclear whether Chico will gain the support he needs to offset Emanuel’s lead. There are still two more televised debates scheduled before election day. Only four of the six candidates running for mayor will be present at the televised events, so voters who want to see more from William “Dock” Walls and Patricia Van Pelt Watkins will have to look elsewhere.