Candidates solicit support at local churches

February 20, 2011 8:42:05 PM PST
The last Sunday of campaigning before Tuesday's election for Chicago mayor is a last ditch effort to win over voters.

On Sunday it was about "politics on the pulpit," as all four major candidates took their message to Chicago churches.

Several polls show the candidates are battling for second place in hopes of forcing a run-off with front-runner Rahm Emanuel.

He and opponent Gery Chico spoke one after the other Sunday morning in front of the city's largest church congregation.

One-time mayoral candidate the Rev. State Sen. James Meeks invited all the current contenders to speak at his Salem Baptist Church.

"Actually, we got to know each other, all of us, for the five minutes I was on the campaign trail," Meeks said.

Gery Chico appealed to the crowd not to believe media polls showing him a distant second to front-runner Emanuel.

"Use your own judgment and you pick the candidate. Do not let the media and others tell you who the candidate is," Chico said.

Emanuel insisted he would not make a political speech, and then was applauded when he repeated the centerpiece of his education plan.

"The most important thing we can do for our children is to get their parents off the sideline and involved in their kids' education," Emanuel said.

Chico's supporters say he is cutting into Emanuel's support among working class, predominantly white voters on the North and Northwest sides.

Emanuel could shore up losses in his base by appealing to more African-American voters, which he did Sunday at five churches and a soul food restaurant.

"Everybody, regardless of where you are, has the same set of ideas and the same concerns," Emanuel said.

But Carol Moseley Braun says former congressman Emanuel does not deserve African-American support because he voted 128 times against the Congressional Black Caucus.

"This is a city that I think ought to have the best information about the respective records and what the candidates have done," Moseley Braun said.

"People can say whatever they want about me," Emanuel said. "My focus is gonna be on the Cty of Chicago and its future."

Congressman Danny Davis cut an ad for black radio, imploring listeners to support Moseley Braun.

"My father would tell us that the Bible says that any man who does not support his own house is an infidel," Davis says in the ad.

"I don't think many people are listening to the black politicians right now. I think it's clear by the polling numbers we've seen," said mayoral candidate Patricia Van Pelt-Wakins.

Meanwhile, City Clerk Miguel del Valle shook the hands of worshipers at St. Sabina's Catholic Church, repeating his focus on the city's neighborhoods.

"It's about charting a different direction. A direction that insures that the neighborhoods get as much attention as downtown does," del Valle said.

Del Valle urged voters to choose him because he says he's the candidate most likely to beat Emanuel in a run-off.

"We want a run-off in this city. We need a run-off," he said.

After a Sunday afternoon visit to a Northwest Side phone bank, Emanuel appeared to lower expectations for Tuesday night.

"It may take one or two bites of the apple," Emanuel said.

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