Mayoral Contenders Gather For Final Televised Debate

UPDATED 02/18/11 5:28 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – The candidates for mayor have taken their last swings at each other face-to-face.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the mayoral candidates duked it out Thursday night at the final debate, which held at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts-Oriental Theatre and televised on WLS-Channel 7.

At the debate, former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and former Chicago schools president Gery Chico took most of the heat from former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and City Clerk Miguel del Valle. Chico also took a fair number of shots at Emanuel himself.

“I was born in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago,” Chico said. “I have worked hard for everything I’ve ever heard.”

“They try to tell you that this election is over; that the money has won it,” Braun said. “But I want to tell you something – it’s not over until you, the voters, speak.”

Emanuel was criticized by his opponents for not doing enough for immigration reform and over his proposal to expand the sales tax base to include some luxury services, although he does want to cut the city rate. Chico was hit for his leadership at the schools that Braun said have moved toward privatization and by del Valle who accused both Chico, an attorney, and Emanuel of getting rich off their government contacts.

“They’re cut from the same cloth,” Del Valle said after the live debate. He implored voters to send the contest to an April runoff.

An April 5 runoff won’t happen unless one candidate fails to get more than 50 percent of the vote on Feb. 22. Polls show Emanuel in striking distance of the margin he needs to win the race outright.

A recent Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll showed Emanuel with 49 percent support compared with 19 percent for Chico. A subsequent Illinois Retail Merchants Association poll showed Emanuel with 58 percent.

Braun and Del Valle trail, along with two other candidates – Patricia Van Pelt Watkins and William “Dock” Walls – who did not participate in the debate.

Emanuel defended his record on supporting immigration reform, which some activists are unhappy hasn’t advanced further under President Barack Obama. His opponents tried to blame him for the lack of progress. Emanuel said Obama faced terrible economic conditions when he first came into office, including crumbling financial markets.

“He made the decision as president what to move forward,” Emanuel said, adding that naturalizations have increased under the Obama administration.

Chico again hit Emanuel over his sales tax proposal, which he derisively calls the “Rahm Tax.” Del Valle also took issue with Emanuel’s tax plan, which would lower the city’s home rule sales tax from 1.25 percent to 1 percent, but expand the tax to include currently untaxed luxury items.

“The amount that Rahm is talking about is a miniscule amount that won’t be found by anyone,” Del Valle said. “And so the question is why are we even proposing it at this time? Because it sounds good.”

Del Valle attacked Chico as a City Hall insider.

“For too long in the city of Chicago, the mayor has been surrounded by a close-knit circle, and that’s why gentlemen like Gery Chico got appointed to everything, because the circle was so small,” Del Valle said.

But Chico said his experience could solve the city’s financial problems.

“We’re telling the working families of this city, ‘Tighten your belt, give us more money,’ but we’re not doing anything,” Chico said. “That’s just not right. I’m not going to see that happen.”

Chico said he isn’t worried Emanuel will win the race outright next week.

“I think we will have a runoff. I expect to have a runoff election against Rahm Emanuel,” Chico said.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine said Emanuel appeared to put an end to a controversy this week stemming from an insult hurled by one of Chico’s union supporters -– that Emanuel was a “Judas” for aiding the North American Free Trade Agreement. Some, including a previously neutral Mayor Daley, thought the remark had anti-Semitic connotations.

“Call me whatever names you want,” Emanuel told reporters after the debate. “I’m not here about calling names. I’m here about focusing on the problems facing the city of Chicago.”

During the election, Emanuel never seemed to be shaken up by the attacks. He and the other candidates now have four full days to campaign.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More from Craig Dellimore
  • mike

    How can you tell Rahm is lying? You can see his lips moving!

    • Philip J. Wayne

      Hah Hah Hah Hah….you should be on a stage heading West..Ha Ha Ha.

  • bob

    A gaggle of circus freaks!!

  • mary

    I don’t think it’s fair that the news outlet keep drumming up that Rahm has a commanding lead of over 50%, one poll doesn’t a winner make. I personally recent the fact that this deal was orchestrated by the Daleys. William Daley goes to Washington to take Rahm’s old job and Rahm comes to Chicago to take the Mayor’s job.
    Today we learned that City of Chicago employees were sent letters regarding their pensions! Now let’s connect the dots, where did he get the list of employees with their addresses? From the Mayor, they have this all planned out and they don’t care that they are giving out private information, they do what they want.
    People wake up, they are treating us like puppets, they can pull the strings any way they please and the citizens of Chicago follow like sheep. We should not allow this to happen. Just because Mr. Emanuel came here with his over $12,000,0000 budget to buy the election, doesn’t meant we should all roll over and allow it to happen.
    He has President Obama and President Clinton, telling us how great he is. If this is not orchestrated, I don’t know what is. Then the President, stands in front of the cameras and says he is not involved! Do we really look that dumb? If he didn’t want to be involved, he would ask Rahm to stop using his comments in his campaign commercials.
    Let’s at the very least not play dead, let there be an election in April, don’t let him come here and crown himself next week.
    I don’t know who I will vote for but I know it won’t be Mr. Emanuel, I refuse to be lead by the nose ring.

    • Philip J. Wayne

      Baloney, more baloney, more and more baloney, more and more and more baloney, more and more and more baloney, more and more and more and more and more and more baloney…….Mary, you sure like baloney.

  • steve


    • Philip J. Wayne

      Steve do you have cataracts?

  • Philip J. Wayne

    Emmanuel has a commanding , majority lead in almost every poll around…Chico Marx, Carol Mostly Fraud and Da Da Da Da Da Da Del Valle , the three stooges are going down to a landslide defeat on Tuesday…….so long Stooges.

  • Philip J. Wayne

    Last time I checked, the Mayor of Chicago was powerless to do anything about Immigration…..I believe that the US Congress and US Senate call the shots on this one….Da Da Da Del Valle…….this is NOT a campaign issue….

  • kt

    I’m surprise you just don’t bleat! Bah, bah, bah, bah, bah.

    • Philip J. Wayne

      You proved what I am been thinking for some time, aliens have infiltrated our city.

  • The Real Deal

    Looks like Philip’s mommy sent him to bed. Sleep well little buddy.
    The short yellow bus will be arriving soon to pick you up.

  • Chuck_Y

    Rahms ties to earning $18.5 million as an investment lobbyist and $320k from sitting on Freddie Mac’s board reeks of corruption. The Rahm Tax benefits are highly inflated and not the simple solution to our city’s needs. The campaign of Obama hired me, has worked in the polls, but the vote is what matters… Chico is the most qualified candidate to serve the city. Chico will prove to be a vital asset because of his experience planning 16 municipal budgets.

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