Garcia secures SEIU endorsement, but Emanuel up in the polls

SHARE Garcia secures SEIU endorsement, but Emanuel up in the polls

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia takes pictures Sunday with supporters after SEIU endorsed him for mayor of Chicago. | Brian Jackson/For the Sun-Times

The president of the Service Employees International Union’s State Council promised Sunday to dispatch “hundreds, probably thousands of people into the streets” to campaign for Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the remaining three weeks of Garcia’s runoff campaign against Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

A day after announcing Garcia had landed the endorsement of the big-spending SEIU State Council in the April 7 election, President Tom Balanoff, said “It’s pretty hard to match what Mayor Emanuel does” in terms of fund-raising.

“But quite frankly, we don’t need all that money,” said Balanoff, also president of SEIU Local 1. “We need enough to level the playing field. We need enough to help ‘Chuy’ Garcia get his message out.”

Garcia joined Balanoff on Sunday at the SEIU State Council’s headquarters, where members filled a room with campaign signs and the sounds of raucous “Chuy” chants. More than 150,000 workers are represented by SEIU’s Illinois State Council.

“I’m proud to receive the endorsement today of workers throughout Illinois, who have come together saying that Chicago must work for all of its people,” Garcia said.

But earlier Sunday, Emanuel said the endorsement that counts is a vision for the city’s future.

“You gotta go out every day and earn the support and endorsement of the public, and that’s what I’ve been doing every day,” Emanuel said before the South Side Irish Parade. “And not just their support, but their support for the ideas and the future of the city of Chicago. Do we continue to have a balanced budget that reflects our values by investing in our kids, our neighborhoods, our small businesses so jobs, families and employers come back to the city, or do we go back to the policies of the past that busted our budget and had jobs, employers, families leaving?”

Emanuel has begun to pull away from Garcia in a weekly mayoral runoff poll conducted by Ogden & Fry. Its Saturday survey of 957 likely voters showed Emanuel getting 47.1 percent support to Garcia’s 36.7 percent. Of those polled, 16.2 percent said they were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of 3.23 percentage points.

But Ogden & Fry continued to caution Hispanic support is underrepresented in the data. And asked about the polls Sunday at SEIU State Council’s headquarters, Garcia said the polls have always underestimated his supporters.

“This will be a competitive race,” Garcia said. “And we will have the resources in terms of human power, as well as the economic resources, to deliver a message that will unite a majority of voters who will put Chicago on a new course on April the 7th.”

When the union announced its endorsement Saturday, Balanoff declined to say how much the union planned to contribute to Garcia. But labor sources said its decision could bring as much as $2 million to help counter Emanuel’s well-funded re-election campaign.

And Sunday, with the SEIU endorsement secured, Garcia said voters can expect to hear his message on TV again starting this week.

Asked whether he plans to go negative, Garcia said, “our ads will simply be factual.”

Contributing: Diana Novak, Chad Merda

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