Tags: Rahm Emanuel | chicago | mayoral race | Jesus Garcia | runoff

Rahm Emanuel Gains in Chicago Polls, but Runoff Still a Risk

Image: Rahm Emanuel Gains in Chicago Polls, but Runoff Still a Risk
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By    |   Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 11:28 AM

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is well ahead in his campaign to win re-election on Feb. 24, but desperately needs just a few more votes to duck an April 7 runoff.

Emanuel, President Obama's first chief of staff, is using campaign help from Obama to overcome a challenge from Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, in an attempt to win the 50 percent plus one votes he needs to avoid the runoff, The Wall Street Journal reports.

With 20 percent of Chicago voters still undecided, according to a Chicago Tribune poll, Emanuel is ahead at 45 percent, the Tribune found, compared to Garcia's 20 percent.

However, Garcia is leading Emanuel by 48 to 33 percent among Hispanic voters, while Emanuel has 56 percent of the white vote, 42 percent of the black vote and 33 percent of the Hispanic vote, according to the Tribune poll.

There are other candidates — Alderman Bob Fioretti and businessman Willie Wilson, each with 7 percent, and activist William "Dock" Walls with 2 percent — who could weaken Emanuel's attempt to win enough support from undecided voters to avoid a runoff.

Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a former Chicago alderman, told the Journal, "If Rahm fails to get the 50%, it becomes much more hazardous."

Both Emanuel and Garcia have gained support since another Tribune poll conducted late last month, the Tribune said.

Whereas black voters were virtually tied on approval and disapproval of Emanuel's performance as mayor in a poll last month, now 43 percent approve of him, as compared to just 33 percent who do not.

In August, six out of ten disapproved of Emanuel's job performance, the Tribune said. One-quarter of black voters remain undecided.

As an indication of the importance of winning undecided black votes, Emanuel has been emphasizing his record of hiring minority contractors in TV ads.

Emanuel also has been making inroads into the Hispanic vote with an endorsement from Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, and by airing Spanish-language TV ads, with the result that Hispanic voters disapproving of Emanuel's job performance dropped from 54 percent to 40 percent in the past month, and approval rose from 36 percent to 44 percent, the Tribune said.

Still Garcia, 58, who was born in Durango, Mexico and came to the U.S. in 1965 at the age of "almost nine" — the son of an undocumented immigrant who gained permanent residency the previous year — remains confident that he can force a runoff despite Emanuel's $30 million war chest and presidential endorsement, he told Chicago Magazine.

Emanuel, 55, is campaigning on a record of employment and infrastructure improvements, school and transportation development, an increase in the minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2019, and increased graduation rates.

But he has been criticized for his battles with teachers in a strike, closing underutilized schools, his proposal to raise property taxes, and an increase in crime, including a 2012 surge in murders, the Journal reports.

A recent poll by Ogden & Fry showed Emanuel leading Garcia by 49.2 percent to 23 percent.

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is well ahead in his campaign to win re-election on Feb. 24, but desperately needs a few more votes to duck an April 7 runoff.
Rahm Emanuel, chicago, mayoral race, Jesus Garcia, runoff
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2015-28-19
Thursday, 19 Feb 2015 11:28 AM
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