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Chuy says ‘progress,’ ‘change’ coming to Chicago; vows to have huge field operation

In a packed campaign office in Pilsen, a hoarse Jesus “Chuy” Garcia spoke over cheers, chants and applause as he laid out why he believes he would beat the odds in Chicago’s mayoral race.

“This campaign is about ordinary people. It’s about students. It’s about youth; it’s about teachers; it’s about nurses; it’s about janitors; it’s about truck drivers; it’s about first responders. It’s about people every where in Chicago that really, really want a change, and they believe that we can move forward,” Garcia told the crowd. ”They know that if we move forward together, that’s progress, that’s change and we’re going to do that tomorrow, right?” he said to applause.

Garcia pushed back at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s contention that being a mayor necessitated leadership, saying: “Leadership is about priorities.”

Garcia’s field director, Abdelnasser Rashid, said Chicago would see the largest field operation it has seen in decades. Rashid said the campaign will dispatch more than 5,000 volunteers across the city to knock on doors, focusing on known Garcia supporters. “We will leave no vote uncontested,” said Rashid, a Harvard University graduate who worked on President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Rashid said the campaign was encouraged by early vote results, including that the top 10 wards with the highest percentage increase were Latino wards. While those Latino wards had high percentage increases, however, the number of voters and the number of registered voters were among the lowest.

Jesus "Chuy" Garcia rubs his mustache during Monday's rally. | Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia rubs his mustache during Monday’s rally. | Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media

Rashid said the top 10 vote tallies in early voting were in wards where Emanuel won the majority in just two in the Feb. 24 first round.

Garcia insisted the polls that show Emanuel with a sizable lead are off the mark, saying they aren’t adequately measuring the Latino vote and the youth vote in Chicago.

“It’s not just the money — a lot of money vs. a little money. This is an unconventional time,” Garcia said. “You’re missing out on a whole demographic that’s going to come out tomorrow.”