Chicago newspapers endorse Mayor Emanuel in runoff election

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Early voting opens Monday in the runoff election between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesus ?Chuy? Garcia. (WLS)

Early voting opens Monday in Chicago's runoff election between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

Sunday, Emanuel got a couple of big boosts to his chances for re-election with two major endorsements.

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If you believe polls, the gap is widening with Emanuel in the lead. Garcia is not worried about the polls or the endorsements because he says he has the momentum and a better ground game.

In its 50-year-old history, Garcia is the first mayoral candidate to visit a small South Side church. Courting the important African-American vote, Garcia was forced to once again defend Mayor Rahm Emanuel's claim that the Cook County Commissioner does not have a specific plan to address the city's financial problems.

"I've put forth a plan to understand our true financial picture, it's called for auditing the city finances," Garcia said.

The lack of specifics is one of the reasons both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times endorsed Emanuel Sunday. When asked about the endorsements, Garcia tried to turn the tables.

"The Chicago Public Schools received another F in terms of financial management. Who is responsible, the mayor? He appointed school board, they haven't been managed correctly," he said.

According to the Ogden and Fry Poll released Sunday, Emanuel's attack ads that define Garcia as the candidate without a financial plan is working. The poll shows Emanuel with a 16-point lead. However, the poll also shows many undecided voters.

"Chuy Garcia has to prove he is competent he is not just the Anti-Rahm and he can govern and come up with good ideas on how to govern," said ABC7 Eyewitness News political analyst Laura Washington.

Besides coming up with good ideas, Washington says Garcia should continue to hammer home the theme that he is the neighborhood candidate, while Emanuel is the guy for rich people. With so many undecided voters, in the end it may come down to the ground game, which Garcia says he's got the edge.

"We are on a path to victory," he said. "Endorsements, the volunteer army that we have, folks on the ground, that is what will win Election Day."

Mayor Emanuel was not available to the media Sunday. However, his campaign says the mayor campaigned at five churches Sunday morning, three on the West Side and two on the North Side.

Meanwhile, Garcia supporters plan to have an early voting event Monday.

CLICK HERE for a list of early voting locations.

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