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Trailing in mayor’s race, Chico makes $1M buy on cable and commercial TV

Gery Chico | Provided photo

Gery Chico | Provided photo

With $1.4 million in the bank, Gery Chico is running third in the mayoral fundraising sweepstakes behind Bill Daley’s $3.6 million and $2 million for Toni Preckwinkle.

But the former Chicago Board of Education president is beginning the new year with a bang.

Chico will hit the airwaves Thursday with his first two campaign spots after purchasing $1 million in advertising time on commercial and cable TV stations.

One ad is aimed squarely at the tax policies of Daley, Preckwinkle and newly-re-elected State Comptroller Susana Mendoza.

It begins with a photo of Chico squaring off against retiring Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a 2011 mayoral debate, followed by a clip of Chico at a bowling alley during that campaign sounding the alarm about what he called the “Rahm tax.”

That was Emanuel’s quickly-abandoned plan to broaden the sales tax umbrella to include professional services.

“When he ran for mayor, Gery Chico warned of new taxes on working families — and working families got hit hard,” an announcer says.

As photos of his opponents flash across the screen, the announcer says, “Toni Preckwinkle’s soda taxes, sales and new parking tax will force more families out. Mendoza voted for billions in new taxes. And Daley’s commuter tax is a job-killer.”

The announcer then reminds voters that Chico “says it’s time for the wealthiest to pay their fair share, give working families a break.”

The second ad is more biographical in nature. It starts with a black-and-white photo of Chico standing in his father’s garage, where he worked.

“After school, I pumped gas right here at my dad’s neighborhood repair shop. You could see the skyscrapers. But they were a whole world away. My family came here from Mexico, and we never wasted a dime,” Chico says.

The biographical spot then shifts to scenes of Chico shaking hands with workers in a restaurant kitchen, walking through the hallways of a school, standing in the garage, getting his hair cut in a local barber shop and talking to a voter on the street.

“When I was president of CPS, we turned record deficits into a surplus and we built new neighborhood schools. As chairman of the City Colleges, I cut millions in waste, and we cut property taxes. As mayor, we’ll invest in working families and our neighborhoods again.”

Chico’s decision to begin the new year with a bang — by spending all but $400,000 of his campaign warchest — is not surprising.

He needs to move quickly to move up in the polls with the mayoral election now less than eight weeks away.

A poll conducted for the Chicago Federation of Labor showed Preckwinkle and Mendoza would make the runoff and that Mendoza would win that Round 2 rather easily. The Chicago Federation of Labor is one of several labor groups that owns the Sun-Times.

Preckwinkle came out on top with 21 percent of the vote. Mendoza was second with 16 percent. That was followed by Daley (9 percent), Willie Wilson (8 percent), Garry McCarthy (7 percent), Dorothy Brown and Paul Vallas (both at 6 percent), Amara Enyia (5 percent) and Chico (3 percent).

When voters were asked to identify their second choice, Chico got 6 percent of the vote.

In head-to-head match-ups, Mendoza beat Preckwinkle with 45 percent to Preckwinkle’s 39 percent. Preckwinkle crushed Daley 51 percent to 32 percent. Mendoza did the same with 56 percent to Daley’s 29 percent. Mendoza also creamed Chico — 58 percent to 23 percent.

Chico has promised not to “add another brick on the backs” of working families. Instead, he has suggested using revenues from an elusive Chicago casino and legalizing recreational marijuana to satisfy a looming $1 billion spoke in pension payments.

Chico has also promised to end what he calls the “the unfair and undervalued assessments of commercial properties and skyscrapers that have resulted from a corrupt and broken system.”

On Wednesday, he also threw his support behind a 1.2 percent real estate transfer tax on million dollar homes in the city.