Mayoral candidates urge early voting

January 31, 2011

By Kristen Mack, Chicago Tribune

Mayoral candidates spent the weekend asking Chicago voters to cast early ballots starting Monday, as they tried to get a leg up in what’s expected to be a high-interest, high-turnout election.

Early voting was in its infancy four years ago and Mayor Richard Daley didn’t face much of a challenge, so not many people voted early and turnout was only 33 percent. The dynamics are different this time.

“We’re definitely going to have larger turnout,” said Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. “Anytime you have a high-profile open contest, that is going to generate more voter interest.”

The four major mayoral candidates are pushing early voting to varying degrees, with the entire campaign on a compressed schedule following Daley’s surprise announcement after Labor Day that he would retire. Candidates had to quickly raise money and put campaign operations together. Then the challenge to Rahm Emanuel it.

Chico called that “a bunch of bunk,” explaining he’d previously suggested adding “e-tailing” or Internet purchases to the sales tax rate, not the “entire new swath of taxes” that Emanuel backs.

Less than two miles away, Emanuel announced a plan to make Chicago “the most bike-friendly city in the United States,” promising to create more protected bike lanes.

His campaign has spent months laying the groundwork to get supporters to the polls. Last week, Emanuel launched an “all-city canvass,” including a live phone chat with likely voters. And he has encouraged supporters to apply for absentee ballots.

Sunday evening, Emanuel held a fundraiser featuring Jeff Tweedy, leader of the critically acclaimed Chicago band Wilco. It followed a fundraising concert featuring the popular singer and actress Jennifer Hudson.

Former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun‘s campaign contends that while she is short on money, she will spend her limited resources on door-to-door canvassing and phone calls to reach potential Braun supporters.

To read more, visit:,0,5706116.story

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