Mayoral campaigning intensifies as early voting ends

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Both mayoral candidates were out hoping to win over undecided voters as early voting for the runoff election ends Saturday.

Will the city go down the proverbial tubes if it doesn't have "the right kind of mayor"? Incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel says yes.

After Emanuel helped at a West Side phone bank, he repeated his now-familiar warning: that Chicago must have a strong mayor, presumably himself, for the city to prosper economically.

"And if you don't have good leadership, we have seen that movie and it's a horror flick," he said. "Jobs, businesses and families leave."

Minutes later, the mayor insisted he was not saying that the aforementioned "horror flick" would happen under Jesus "Chuy" Garcia's leadership. But the challenger says he knows fear mongering when he hears it.

"It's one of those last-minute appeals for people to be fearful and to think twice about voting for change," Garcia said.

In negative ads, the Emanuel campaign has questioned Garcia's ability to run city government despite the challenger's nearly 20 years of experience as a city, state and county lawmaker.

As part of his case for re-election, the mayor cited several corporate re-locations to Chicago since 2011.

"And do I think leadership in City Hall mattered to those decisions? Yes," Emanuel said.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who campaigned with Garcia at a South Side senior center, says he remembers how fear was used against Harold Washington before Washington won election as the city's first African American mayor.

"I shall never forget how they tried to convince many Latinos if Harold ran they would be hurt," Jackson said. "Their options expanded. They tried to convince whites they would lose if Harold won."

Fear aside, the mayor insisted business leaders would have more confidence in Emanuel's leadership than in Garcia's.

"If you don't have the right kind of leadership, it actually shakes the foundation of businesses' confidence," Emanuel said.

The Chicago Teachers Union is planning a huge rally Saturday at the Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church on the West Side for Garcia. CTU President Karen Lewis to be joined by the Rev. Jackson, congressman Danny Davis, author Cornel West and Newark, New Jersey Mayor Ras Baraka.

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