The final mayoral push: Visiting churches, shaking hands and blaming the media

February 22, 2011

(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
Gery Chico holds a young supporter on Sunday at a campaign office in Edison Park.

The candidates for Chicago mayor are making a final push before ballots are cast Tuesday, and everyone besides the front-runner is making the case for a runoff. Sunday campaigning included church visits, last minute fundraisers, hand-shaking at restaurants, pumping up volunteers and blaming the media.

Miguel del Valle said he visited four churches on the South and West Sides.

"And we're getting a great response everywhere," del Valle, the city clerk, told a group of supporters at a restaurant in the Logan Square neighborhood.

Del Valle said a runoff is necessary because voters have been distracted - by the blizzard, and the lengthy challenge to Rahm Emanuel's residency.

"Because of all that, they feel that they haven't had a chance to really get a good look at the candidates," del Valle said.

Nine miles to the northwest, Gery Chico tried to excite volunteers who crowded into his Edison Park campaign office.

"We will win this election. If not the 22nd, we'll become the mayor on April 5th in this city," Chico said to cheers.

Polls show Emanuel with roughly 50-percent support. His opponents, including former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, need to keep him below that mark Tuesday or he'll will win without a runoff.

Some of the candidates Sunday blamed the media for Emanuel's front-runner status. Chico told reporters this has been an "odd" election.

"In this race, we have a candidate who was dropped in by parachute with all of you guys - not you guys, but your colleagues - who [was] walking around like a rock star since day one," Chico said. "So it's been a little bit different dynamic, so you got to give it a chance to catch up."

"This race is not over, number one," del Valle told his supporters. "Number two, this race should not be decided by the media. It has to be decided by the voters in the neighborhoods."

Patricia Van Pelt Watkins and William "Dock" Walls are also on the ballot for mayor.

Polls open at 6 a.m. Tuesday, and close at 7 p.m.