Huffpost Politics

Gery Chico Paints Rahm Emanuel As An Outsider, Creeps Up In New Poll

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Rahm Emanuel (left) and Gery Chico at a WGN debate in January. | AP

It's full speed ahead in the race for Chicago mayor. Less than two weeks remain, and that means more forums, debates and polls.

This week, ABC-7 Chicago released a poll that gave Rahm Emanuel 54 percent of the vote, but a Chicago Tribune/WGN poll released Thursday put him just below the magic number--with 49 percent support from Chicagoans.

The second place candidate, Gery Chico, has been pulling out all the stops in recent weeks, and making some gains. The Tribune's poll gave Chico 19 percent of the vote, and he appears to be making a play for the 12 percent of Chicagoans that remain undecided--by painting frontrunner Emanuel as a rich outsider.

"Growing up in our city in the Back of the Yards and living with the threat of violence even in my own neighborhood stays with you," Chico said at the Chicago Urban League debate Thursday night. "There are people like Mr. Emanuel, who grew up in the wealthy North Shore and probably never experienced that."

Chico's strategy in recent weeks has been to paint Emanuel as some sort of rich outsider who is disconnected with working Chicagoans. Chico, who owns a downtown condo and made more than $2.8 million in 2009, has taken his anti-"Rahm Tax" message to local barber shops, bowling alleys and pet salons--and repeatedly linked Emanuel to Chicago's wealthy suburbs.

"He went to the wealthiest high school in the state of Illinois [New Trier]," Chico said Thursday night. "I do not see how you can relate to the people of the city of Chicago when you have not walked these streets and lived here. If you come from Wilmette, Winnetka, Lake Forest, that's what you think like. I didn't go to some elite high school. I went to Kelly high school."

As the Tribune points out, Chico has made it very clear that he is "from the neighborhoods" and would focus on them more than downtown, but voters might not be picking up that message. From the Tribune:

When asked which candidate would pay most attention to neighborhoods they live in, 37 percent said Emanuel, 19 percent said Chico, 11 percent said Braun and 10 percent said del Valle, who has pushed a similar pro-neighborhoods message."

As usual, Chico was not the only one attacking Emanuel at Thursday's debate. Carol Moseley Braun accused Emanuel of "hiding behind the inference of the president's support [to help him] in the black community." The attack comes after Emanuel released an ad featuring President Obama's words of praise.

Again, Emanuel did not respond to the attacks--which appears to be working for him if the poll numbers are accurate.

"My goal is not to criticize anybody or to attack anybody but to attack the problems of the city of Chicago," he said.

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