It's official: Gery Chico has moved passed Carol Moseley Braun for second place in the Chicago mayor's race.
NBC reported last night that internal polling by the campaigns of Braun, Chico, and front-runner Rahm Emanuel all confirm the move, which comes after a week of aggressive television advertising by Chico. The Braun campaign still hasn't aired a television advertisement, as it struggles to raise funds.
Chico was the first candidate to "go negative" this week, releasing a spot targeted directly at Emanuel and his plan to add a sales tax to certain services. The so-called "Rahm Tax" has been an issue of contention between the two for weeks, with Chico arguing that a vast swath of everyday purchases will be taxed, and Emanuel countering that only purchases for the very rich will fall under the tax's purview.
Despite being down more than 20 points in the polls, the second-place distinction isn't just a consolation prize. If Emanuel is held below 50 percent on February 22, the two leading vote-getters will go to a head-to-head matchup in April. Current polls place Rahm in the 40-45 percent range.
But columnist Mark Brown in the Sun-Times says Chico shouldn't get too excited about the numbers. With Moseley Braun's support decaying, Brown suggests that many of her voters could drift toward Emanuel, who is already polling well in the black community and has the support of Presidents Clinton and Obama, two widely respected and popular figure among African-Americans.
Still, Chico must surely count the new polls as a good sign, if not a full-blown surge.