Emanuel Wins Hospitality Union Backing, As Garcia Works To Shore Up Support

CHICAGO (CBS) — On the first day of early voting in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia were criss-crossing the city to bolster support with Chicago voters.

Emanuel picked up the endorsement of Unite HERE Local 1, a labor union representing 15,000 workers at restaurants, hotels, stadiums, cafeterias, and convention centers in the Chicago area and northwest Indiana.

The mayor said Chicago always is competing with Las Vegas and Orlando for convention business, and the city had lost ground before he took office.

“Orlando and Vegas were kicking our butts. We fixed it – working together, business and labor. Ten thousand jobs. The hospitality industry has come to the city of Chicago. Orlando and Vegas are behind us,” Emanuel said.

Across town, challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia supporters gathered in Wicker Park, saying the mayor’s focus on convention business has come at the expense of neighborhood development.

“Rahm has a very nice vocabulary, but he doesn’t really say anything. So he can tell us how he’s done all these great things, but really our bond rating has dropped, and we just need a change. We need somebody who’s really in touch with the neighborhoods,” one woman said.

Supporters of the Garcia campaign gathered at the Bucktown-Wicker Park Library on Monday to cast early ballots in the upcoming runoff election. The most recent poll shows Garcia trailing Emanuel by double digits — with 47.1 percent of voters supporting Emanuel, 36.7 percent supporting Garcia, and 16.2 percent undecided; if the undecided option is eliminated, Emanuel leads 54.7 percent to 45.3 percent.

“We really want to fight for [Garcia] to win, because we need somebody who cares for the people, not just cares for their billionaire friends,” one woman said at the Garcia campaign rally.

Emanuel said he does focus on the neighborhoods. He said the convention industry brought more than 50 million visitors to Chicago last year, providing jobs for lots of city residents.

“Four years ago, there were 38 million visitors, and I knew that if we grew the convention business, and the tourism business in the city of Chicago, we were going to add jobs, and obviously not just jobs, but also incomes,” he said.

Emanuel said the city is now the top convention destination in the U.S.

Also Monday, the city snowplows were out in full force for the winter storm that abruptly coated Chicago. Snowstorms and politics have been linked ever since the late Mayor Jane Byrne’s upset victory in 1979.

Emanuel said the latest city response was business as usual, CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports.

“It’s no different than whether it’s election season or not,” he said. “It’s get the job done.”

Garcia was in New York Monday, raising money for more television spots. Teachers here and on both coasts have been major supporters.

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