Will there be a runoff election for Chicago mayor?

February 22, 2011 4:54:43 PM PST
Snow and cold could have an impact on Election Day and determine if Chicago will have to hold a runoff election to name its next mayor.

The six candidates for mayor campaigned and cast their own ballots Tuesday. To win the election, one of them has to get 50-percent plus one vote. Otherwise, a runoff will be held.

Earlier this week, Chicago Board of Elections officials expected voter turnout to be around 50 percent. But as of 4 p.m., voters were trickling in to the polling locations. Polls are open until 7 p.m. If that pace keeps up, turnout could be significantly lower than predicted in the first truly contested mayoral race in more than two decades.

The major candidates kept busy Election Day schedules and tried to whip up enthusiasm and support as best they could.

"This is a wonderful, historic election. I'm excited for the city of Chicago," said mayoral hopeful Miguel Del Valle. He was working polling places before dawn on Tuesday. He said he had supporters stationed in all 50 wards. "I think Chicago is ready for reform and I represent that agenda."

Candidate Carol Moseley Braun repeated a central campaign theme when she cast her ballot Tuesday morning. "I want to be the mayor for all of Chicago and to bring our city together, every neighborhood, every family so that we can be of one city working together."

The frontrunner, according to polls, is Rahm Emanuel, who spent his lunch with his daughters and former White House Colleague David Axelrod at Manny's Deli. "We had lunch together which what we usually, historically have done near elections," Emanuel said of Axelrod, who turned 56 Tuesday. Does Axelrod think there'll be a runoff?

"It would be enormous to win, to win this thing in one. Do I think it's possible? I think it'd be foolish to say otherwise," said Axelrod.

But Gery Chico is confident he will be in a one-on-one runoff with Emanuel. The candidate and wife, Sunny, voted after receiving reports that turnout was better in his "key" wards.

"We like what we're seeing. But again, it's in the hands of the voters and we will abide their decision and I look forward to being with you this evening," Chico said.

Patricia Van Pelt Watkins cast her ballot at a West Side school Tuesday and William "Dock" Walls voted at Lovette Elementary School.

In past elections with low turnout, candidates who were better organized were best at getting their people out to vote.