When the last weekend of a race for mayor coincides in Chicago with Easter and Opening Day at Wrigley Field, the candidates know where to go to close the deal.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia didn’t disappoint on Sunday. They roamed from church services to the Friendly Confines as they tried to squeeze every last vote out of the first runoff campaign for mayor since Chicago switched to the nonpartisan election system 20 years ago.
Momentum seemed to be with Emanuel, though. The mayor had double-digit leads in the latest set of polls by the firm Ogden & Fry, which has been tracking the race since Garcia forced Emanuel into a one-on-one runoff campaign on Feb. 24. The mayor had 51.3 percent support to Garcia’s 33 percent in a Saturday poll of likely voters in which 15.6 percent said they were undecided.
The firm did a similar poll Friday — without the “undecided” option. And when likely voters were forced to choose between the incumbent or the challenger, Emanuel had 56.6 percent support to Garcia’s 43.4 percent.
Ogden & Fry has previously cautioned that the Hispanic community is underrepresented in the polling data, but Emanuel has been widening the gap since the runoff began.
The mayor and his wife, Amy Rule, attended an afternoon service at Monument of Faith Church in Ashburn with Secretary of State Jesse White and City Clerk Susana Mendoza.
“This is our last stop, this Sunday before election,” Emanuel said, “We want to be here. Our last one, as a place of worship.”
The mayor went on to make his case for re-election. And he told the congregation to remember, after the election, that “your city needs you. Your community needs you. Your neighbors need you. If we’re going to do what we’ve got to do as a city, we’ve got to do it together, working together.”
Garcia traveled from Epiphany Church in Little Village to Valois Restaurant in Hyde Park. But while at the restaurant, he was asked about an item later on his schedule — the Chicago Cubs. He was asked if he was a “believer” in the historically hope-dashing North Siders.
“I am a believer,” Garcia said. “Today is Easter Sunday.”
Holding hands with his wife, Evelyn, as the Rev. Jesse Jackson stood nearby, Garcia went on to say he had “never felt more faith in life, more faith in human beings.”
“We have a great pope who comes from Latin America,” Garcia said. “We have a new archbishop. It’s a great day for Christians the world over.”
He said, “I think Chicagoans also feel a sense of renewal. Spring is here, and I think the winds of change are blowing through Chicago.”
Both candidates planned to visit Wrigley Field for Sunday’s home opener between the Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. Emanuel signed baseballs and took photos with fans at Clark and Addison. But first, he told reporters he has “changed” over the years, “and the hope is I’ve changed for the better.”
“I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I work at it constantly,” Emanuel said.
As for whether the runoff has been good for the city, the mayor said, “the voters will be a judge of whether this was the best process.”
Garcia, meanwhile, said Sunday he was excited about the early voting numbers. He said they bode well for his candidacy.
“Everywhere we’ve been, people are excited,” Garcia said. “There’s a real sense of possibility of change in the air.
“People voted for change on Feb. 24. I think that will only grow as we get closer to April 7.”