Garcia makes last minute push to get voters out

by Adriana Cargill

With two hours left to go, voters this afternoon reported empty polling stations and low turnout in Chicago’s first runoff mayoral election.

Turnout could prove critical to the outcome of this election, especially for the grass-roots campaign of Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who has cast himself as a man who represents working class Chicagoans. In contrast, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has battled an image as a politician who represents corporate and wealthy interests.

“The people who concern me most are the people that we identified as voters who are sympathetic to us and we are reaching out to them,” Garcia said at a noon rally in West Town. “If we get them out, we win, it’s as simple as that.”

Earlier this morning as light drizzle fell on the city, Garcia was all smiles as he encouraged Chicagoans to vote for him at the Jefferson Blue Line and at the Merchandise Mart Brown and Purple Line “L” train stops.

“It’s a great day to exercise democracy in Chicago,” said Garcia.

The Garcia campaign said that weather and undecided voters could make or break his campaign against Emanuel. Volunteers for Garcia fanned out across the city to knock on doors and make phone calls to urge voters to go to the polls.

“I think there’s all the money in the world on the other side of this race, there’s TV ads, but what the Garcia campaign has is real people who are really passionate about this,” said Alex, a volunteer from North Lawndale, at the rally.

Medill Reports spoke with commuters this morning about their plans to vote.

“I don’t like Rahm Emanuel at all. Never liked him, from day one,” said Patrick Patton, who lives near the Merchandise Mart. “I don’t like his attitude.” He called the mayor “arrogant.”

Katherine Harper, who lives in the Lakeview/Lincoln Park area, said she will vote for Mayor Emanuel. “I think he actually has a plan and knows how to run the city, as opposed to Chuy, who doesn’t really have the experience and doesn’t know where the money is coming from. That scares me.”

Other commuters expressed concerns over Emanuel’s failure to address budget problems and the pension crisis.

Photo at Top: Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia speaks at a noon rally in West Town to energize campaign volunteers. (Adriana Cargill/Medill)