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Mayoral Candidates Ramping Up Fundraising Machines

Gery Chico, Carol Moseley Braun and Rahm Emanuel

Chicago mayoral candidates Gery Chico, Carol Moseley Braun and Rahm Emanuel (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The politicians running for mayor of Chicago are trying to get to the bank to stash away enough money to stay in the race, let alone finish; some of them even before officially announcing they’re running.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports that the candidates will need millions and are asking for whatever anyone will give.

Several weeks, CBS 2 News speculated that candidates would need to ante up $3 million to get into the city’s biggest political poker game.

Now, it appears candidates will need more like $5 million, with at least one candidate planning to start running TV ads as soon as next week, more than three months before the election.

Projected frontrunner Rahm Emanuel has been running videos on his website for weeks, all before he’s admitted in no uncertain terms that he’s running.

Asked Monday if he was running, Emanuel would only say, “You’ll know in good time.”

But while Emanuel continued his carefully-orchestrated media events, doling out tidbits like diamonds, granting interviews like Papal audiences, his media plans are the tip-off.

His aides have been asking about ad rates for TV time beginning early next week.

Emanuel’s spokesman refused to comment, but sources said he is raising money at a torrid clip from big donors, starting at $25,000 each. Of course, he’s not alone.

Dean Vallas, the brother of former Chicago Public Schools boss Paul Vallas, is running the campaign for longtime Daley aide Gery Chico.

“It’s five hours a day locked in a room making fundraising calls,” Vallas said.

Former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun also has yet to officially enter the race, but she’s confident she’ll be able to raise the $3 to $5 million most feel a credible candidate needs to contend in the race to succeed Mayor Richard M. Daley.

She boasts millionaire investment banker John Rogers, a friend of President Barack Obama, as one of her backers.

She also claimed that Emanuel, who reached out to donors at a Hollywood fundraiser last week and is taking in donations from around the country, won’t be alone in nationwide fundraising efforts.

Though, clearly, Emanuel will have the edge in raising money outside of Chicago.

“Frankly, Rahm can probably raise whatever he wants to raise,” said Lou Weisbach, who once raised big bucks for Bill Clinton. He’s working for the Chico campaign, which admits it won’t have as much money as Emanuel.

“You don’t need that much money,” Vallas said. “We’ll have easily enough money to get that message out. Will we have as much as Rahm? No. … Nobody’s competing against Rahm, we’re just competing to get our message out and … we’re confident we’ll that money.”

Money, on the other hand, could be a big problem for the other candidates.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle might have a hard time raising that much. State Sen. James Meeks’ camp has refused to even discuss it.