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Chicago Mayoral Election Getting Grittier

March 4, 2015

If you listen hard enough you can hear the sizzle of the heat in the Chicago mayoral election.


“In Chicago, politics is a contact sport, and it looks like we’re going to have one of those full-contact battles,” said Bill Daley, a former White House chief of staff whose father and brother each served as Chicago mayor for more than 20 years.

Emanuel — once thought to be a shoo-in in the April 7 runoff — plans to launch an ad campaign in the coming days intended to discredit Garcia and cast him as a do-nothing pol who’s accomplished little during his two decades in public service, according to sources close to the mayor. The commercials will also present the mayor, who’s come under fire for closing underperforming schools in hardscrabble neighborhoods and for hiking taxes to close the city’s budget deficit, as someone who is willing to make tough decisions even if they aren’t popular.

The mayor has already begun road-testing his message. Last week, his campaign hammered Garcia for opposing the placement of Barack Obama’s presidential library in Chicago, saying that it “speaks volumes about his lack of leadership.” On Monday, Garcia, who had expressed concern about putting the library on city park land, appeared to back down. “Whatever the final decision is,” Garcia said, “I will support.”

Emanuel declined to be interviewed for this story. But, in an email sent through a spokeswoman, he wrote that the election is now “a clear choice between two very different visions of Chicago’s future and how to get there. One path sidesteps our problems and delays the solutions as they get worse and worse, and the other is about confronting our challenges head on.”

Few could have predicted that Emanuel, 55, would be in such a precarious position against Garcia.

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