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The Countdown: Del Valle Enlists Bikes, Rahm Polls Ahead, Forum Fracas

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The citywide elections draw nigh, friends, and candidates are packing in as much campaigning as they can in these final days. So much so, in fact, that mayoral candidates are going to be racing across town tonight to speak at two rival forums. Meanwhile, del Valle supporters are going to race across town on their bikes this weekend, and a new poll shows Rahm racing to the front of the pack. Indeed, with thirteen days until the election, it's a race to the finish on today's edition of The Countdown.

Stay tuned to HuffPost Chicago from now until February 22 for "The Countdown," a daily roundup of election news, gossip and other fun tidbits. You can also sign up to receive "The Countdown" via email daily by checking the "Chicago Brief" box here.

THE NUMBERS ARE IN

It's official: ABC-7 has the first independent poll to show Rahm Emanuel taking over 50 percent of the vote.

We reported today that, apparently, the total burnout of the Carol Moseley Braun campaign helped fuel Emanuel's fire:

After the dismal showing thus far, Braun has faded from a strong second to a distant fourth in the polls. And the support of the city's black population seems to be shifting to Emanuel.

This week, Jesse White, the Secretary of State and a prominent black politician in Illinois, threw his support behind Emanuel. And in the ABC survey, 53 percent of African-American respondents registered their support for Rahm.

He also outperformed the two Latino candidates, Chico and del Valle, among Latino respondents. Emanuel won over 47 percent of those voters, while del Valle received roughly half that much support, and Chico still less.

Of course, if Rahm wins over 50 percent in the general election on the 22nd, there won't be a run-off; otherwise, the top two vote-getters will head to a head-to-head matchup in April. You can be sure that, despite a nearly 40-point margin in the ABC poll (!!), Team Rahm is working tirelessly to guarantee they top that 50-percent mark.

BIKING FOR MIGUEL...

Rahm may look like he's rolling, but another candidate benefited marginally from the collapse of CMB: Miguel del Valle, who moved from fourth to third. Granted, he only polled eight percent, but hey, as long as the other guy doesn't get a majority, second place is a win in this game. So third must look markedly better than fourth

Del Valle supporters are hoping to get their candidate some visibility -- not with a big TV ad buy (the candidate hasn't exactly had Emanuel levels of success with fundraising), but with a two-wheeled army rolling through the city this Friday.

A "Bicycle Ride for Miguel del Valle" sets out February 11th, setting up at 12:30, departing at 1:00 from Daley Plaza, and arriving at Uptown Bikes on Broadway at 3:00.

Click here for more details on the event, or to RSVP.

...THE BLOGGER

Speaking of Clerk del Valle, the candidate took to Huffington Post Chicago's blog column today to say more about his recently unveiled education policy:

Under my leadership in City Hall, we will select between 14 and 20 schools, including neighborhood schools where the majority of our kids get their education.

At these schools, we will offer a variety of programs, including full- and part-time classes, online courses, GED preparation, college placement, mentoring, and career counseling.

70 Re-Enrollment Support Specialists will staff the programs, provide constant support and feedback, and monitor the students' progress. We will build on what works and cut back on what doesn't.

Read the whole post here.

DOUBLE DEBATE

As we wrote yesterday, the mayoral candidates are in a bit of a scheduling bind tonight. All six of them committed to an LGBT forum to be held tonight, and to a Chicago Defender forum scheduled for last week. But when the blizzard hit, the Defender rescheduled its event to the same night and time as the LGBT Coalition's.

At first, it looked like candidates were fleeing the Coalition for the Defender event. But as we called around, campaigns began changing their tune. All the major campaigns now say they'll be attending both events. It's unclear exactly how they'll pull this off, but we'll find out momentarily. Stay tuned for updates on this one.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

@whet: if you need a fresh way to describe rahm: "alan alda with an uzi" -- dee dee myers