After weeks of undergoing an on-air pummeling by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia will finally fire back in what appears to be a double-barreled TV ad campaign.
Both Garcia’s campaign committee and the influential Service Employees International Union are planning to launch separate TV spots this week, likely starting on Wednesday, running through the April 7 runoff election.
The well-funded Emanuel, who raised about $15 million in the first round, had the financial ability to immediately get on the air with TV ads after the Feb. 24 election, in which the mayor failed to reach the needed 50 percent plus one to avoid the April 7 runoff.
Emanuel’s TV spots aimed to soften his image and painted Garcia as inexperienced for the mayor’s job.
Still, Garcia’s ability to force Emanuel into a runoff election has drawn wider financial support, including from SEIU, which remained neutral in the first round of the mayoral race.
“You can expect a communication directly from SEIU to the broader public in the coming days,” said Jerry Morrison, a top political operative in the labor group.
In addition to its own TV ad, Morrison said SEIU Local 1 wrote a $100,000 direct contribution to Garcia’s campaign on Monday.
The TV ad launch comes after Garcia has taken a hit in the polls, with Emanuel pulling ahead, according to two recent surveys published in recent days.
An Ogden & Fry survey of 957 likely voters showed Garcia 11 points behind Emanuel. The same pollsters had the two in a virtual dead heat right after the first-round contest.
Since then, Emanuel’s campaign, as well as the pro-Emanuel committee Chicago Forward, has run regular TV spots casting Garcia as unprepared to take on Chicago’s top government job.
Garcia’s ad campaign will push back against Emanuel as well as get out positive messaging on Garcia.
“It’s what they sometimes call positive-negative. It shows where he’s different from Rahm. He will be dealing with an important issue, and showing how he differs,” said Don Rose, a consultant on the Garcia campaign.
Garcia, the second-highest vote-getter, has the money to launch a TV campaign thanks to sizable donations from union groups — including the Chicago Teachers Union, SEIU Health Care and $300,000 from the American Federation of Teachers last week.
A Sunday endorsement from SEIU could mean an additional $2 million for Garcia, labor sources have told the Sun-Times.
“He will be staying up in the air through the rest of the campaign with a significant enough buy for
people to get three-four exposures of the spots,” Rose said. “It will be a sufficient buy to do the job we want done.
“We will be on the air from now through the election.”