- Associated Press - Monday, February 21, 2011

CHICAGO | Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s main rivals in the race to succeed Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley spent Monday doing some last-minute campaigning and scratching for every vote they could find with the hope of forcing an April runoff.

Former Chicago schools President Gery Chico and former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun each predicted receiving the votes necessary to deny Mr. Emanuel an outright victory Tuesday and to force a two-person runoff.

The fourth major candidate, City Clerk Miguel del Valle, also has pleaded with voters throughout the campaign to send the race to a runoff so they have more time to decide.

“We expect a runoff and I think you’ll see that tomorrow and then we can get the race on and going right away,” said Mr. Chico, who spent much of Monday riding Chicago Transit Authority trains and telling commuters what he plans to do if elected.

There will be an April 5 runoff between the top two vote-getters unless someone receives more than 50 percent of the vote Tuesday. Recent polls showed Mr. Emanuel nearing that margin with Mr. Chico, Mrs. Braun and Mr. del Valle fighting for second place. Two other candidates — William “Dock” Walls and Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins — are also running.

“It’s probably going to wind up in a runoff, but that’s OK, we can handle that,” Mrs. Braun said during a fiery South Side news conference attended by some of her most powerful backers, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and U.S. Reps. Bobby L. Rush and Danny Davis.

Mr. Davis, who withdrew from the race in December in what he called an act of black unity, is featured in a new radio ad in which he asks voters to back Mrs. Braun and recounts how his father used to tell him that the Bible says “any man who will not support his own house is worse than an infidel.” Mr. Davis defended the ad Monday by saying it was quoting Scripture. He did not identify its intended audience.

The ad was bought by a political action committee called the United Communities of Chicago.

For his part, Mr. Emanuel said he wasn’t concerned about the prospect of a runoff.

“What I’m concerned about and what I think is the major concern is about making sure that we have policies for our future, that we have also a mayor that has the determination, the resilience and the vision to see the changes through. That’s what concerns me and I think that’s what’s on the mind of the people that are going to vote,” he said during a stop at a northwest side retirement community with two of his three children.

Doris Bratt, an 80-year-old retired secretary who came to hear Mr. Emanuel speak, said she was still undecided with a day to go to make up her mind. She said there were other seniors like her.

“They’re really thinking about this. This may be the last mayor that, you know, they may have and they want somebody good so they want to take their time to really think about the issues and think about who would really be the best candidate,” said Mrs. Bratt, who is familiar with Mr. Emanuel from his time as a Chicago congressman.

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