Mayoral candidates gear up for Election Day

February 22, 2011 5:04:27 AM PST
The major candidates in the race for Chicago mayor were out making their final pushes to win undecided votes Monday night.

The polls open at 6 a.m. Tuesday and close at 7 p.m. Click here to find your polling location and learn more about the candidates

Surrounded by some of the 2,000 supporters he says will work for him in all 50 wards on Tuesday, candidate Miguel del Valle said his underfunded, grass roots campaign has ignited since last week's televised debates.

"We have hundreds of people who have come forward just in the last few days who want to participate in this election," said del Valle.

In the Loop, candidate Rahm Emanuel led a conference call with 9,300 supporters, his campaign says, after he made personal appeals for Election Day help.

"Listen, I was calling to see if you could help volunteer tomorrow for Election Day," said Emanuel.

Candidate Gery Chico began a get-out-the-vote rally at his downtown headquarters. Chico and wife Sunny spent the day riding the El from one end of the city to another, campaigning all the way.

"We are turning the page, we don't want to turn the page with a wimper, we want to turn the page with a thunder and take our city in a new direction," said Chico.

Braun supporters clash with Emanuel

Earlier in the day, Emanuel was heckled during a stop at a restaurant on the city's South Side Monday. Supporters of one of his opponents, Carol Moseley Braun, chanted her name as Emanuel walked in.

Among the Braun supporters in the restaurant were Congressman Bobby Rush and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

When Emanuel arrived at Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles during the noon hour, he did not know that Rev. Jackson, Congressman Rush and a dozen other chanting Braun supporters were already inside the crowded restaurant.

"This is my neighborhood. I'm here all the time. He just came in for the first time. I will be here today, tomorrow, the next day. I'm here quite often," said Rep. Bobby Rush, (D) Chicago.

"I have been down here three or four times. This is the second time I have done it just for a meal, and this is not about politics," Emanuel responded.

Ninety minutes earlier, only six blocks away, Braun's campaign held a news conference where she and other speakers charged that Emanuel was the candidate for the rich and privileged.

"I have always been on the side of working people. I will always be on the side of working people," said Braun.

Rev. Jackson said Emanuel was trying to manipulate black voters with ads featuring President Barack Obama.

"I would simply ask the people to know that you are voting for Rahm Emanuel and not President Barack Obama," said Jackson.

Braun supporters parked campaign vehicles outside while Emanuel finished his fried chicken during a tense 45 minute lunch.

Restaurant owner Tonya Johnson had nothing to do with the political ambush.

"We are proud supporters of Rahm. He is a very good guy. And we look forward to him being mayor of Chicago," said Johnson.

"They can say whatever they want. Everybody can do what they want. It was nice and spirited because, guess what? Chicago matters and it is worth fighting for Chicago," said Emanuel.

The city election board chairman Langdon Neal predicted a moderate turnout Tuesday.

"We are hoping to exceed and come close to where we were in the fall of over 50 percent," said Neal.

Recent media surveys suggested over 80 percent of the voters have already made up their minds.

"Every one of them has something they stand for that I don't like. But again, I try to pick what I felt was the best of the bunch," said Chicago voter Helen Rabitoy.

Mayoral hopefuls make final push for votes

Candidates spent the final morning on the campaign trail greeting voters, hoping to convince those undecided that they deserve the votes.

To win the election and avoid a runoff, one candidate needs to receive 50 percent plus one vote Tuesday.

Emanuel shook hands with commuters headed to work at the Western Brown Line train stop Monday morning and had a message for undecided Chicagoans:

"In all my campaigns and all my time in public service, whether it was working for President Obama or President Clinton or representing people here in Congress, I've leveled with them about the difficult choices we have to make, and I've been honest about those choices and been able to see those changes through," Emanuel said.

Miguel del Valle also greeted commuters. Crowds were sparse, however, because of the President's Day holiday.

"The response from the voters has been very positive. People are ready for change in the city of Chicago. I've advocated reform, and people have responded. That message has resonated," del Valle said.

Gery Chico -- who has been fighting a cold for days -- powered through Monday and met voters eating breakfast at a pancake house in the city's Beverly neighborhood.

Chico says he is looking forward to Election Day and believes Emanuel may not have enough votes to avoid a runoff, despite poll numbers to the contrary.

"We feel real good. I think the people ultimately decide. It's their decision about what happens from here on in, but we're very confident," said Chico.

Carol Moseley Braun made an appearance late Monday morning at the Parkway Ballroom on the South Side for a get-out-the-vote celebration.

Meanwhile, hopeful Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins said she planned to canvass a South Side neighborhood Monday, knocking on as many doors as possible to get out the vote.

All of the candidates are trying to make every second count before voters head to the polls Tuesday.

Madigan reminds voters of their rights

Attorney General Lisa Madigan says 150 teams of assistant attorneys general and investigators will be working Tuesday to monitor polling places to make sure they are accessible and that voters rights are protected.

Madigan reminds voters they have the right to vote if they are in line when the polls close at 7 o'clock. Also, if voters make a mistake or spoil a paper ballot, they have the right to a replacement ballot.

Voters have the right to request assistance if they cannot read, have trouble understanding English or are disabled.

ABC7 will have comprehensive election coverage Tuesday night.

We will have live updates and results throughout the evening and expanded coverage on the news at 10 p.m.

You can get continuous results on

For viewers on-the-go, the latest election results are on web-enabled phones and wireless handhelds at