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Looks like Chicago may soon have a Hispanic mayor! Lightfoot going down?

Is Chuy running away with race for Chicago mayor? Local 150 poll shows he is.

The poll of 700 likely Chicago voters conducted Nov. 10-17 by Impact Research shows U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia leading Mayor Lori Lightfoot by 7 percentage points in Round One and clobbering the incumbent in a runoff.

By Fran Spielman Dec 13, 2022, 11:24am MST, Chicago Suntimes

U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia speaks with reporters outside the Board of Elections Board Supersite before he turns in his nominating petitions to get his name on the ballot as a candidate for Mayor of Chicago, Monday afternoon, Nov. 28, 2022.

U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia defeated Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a mayoral election poll commissioned by Operating Engineers Local 150. Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia appears to be running away with the race for mayor of Chicago, according to a poll bankrolled by a powerful construction union before Operating Engineers Local 150 made a $1 million commitment to Garcia’s campaign.

The poll of 700 likely Chicago voters conducted Nov. 10-17 by Impact Research shows Garcia leading Mayor Lori Lightfoot by 7 percentage points in Round One of the mayoral sweepstakes and clobbering the incumbent in a runoff by 31 percentage points.

Garcia’s poll — conducted Oct. 26-27 by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, North Carolina — showed Lightfoot finishing first in Round One with 22% of the vote to Garcia’s 14%, then Garcia pulling away in the runoff with 43% to Lightfoot’s 34%.

How could the race have changed so dramatically in just over two weeks?

Lightfoot campaign spokesperson Christina Freundlich said it was “put into the field” on the day Garcia declared his candidacy.

“His name ID was pretty high at that time. He was getting positive coverage. ... He likely saw a bit of a bump with his announcement. ... But running a poll when you announce is just a tactical approach to give yourself a boost,” Freundlich said.

“The mayor has been up on TV since then running an aggressive paid media campaign and the dynamics of the race have changed in the last month. Polls four years ago at this time showed the mayor in single digits. And we all know that campaigns matter. ... But the real race is happening on the ground in Chicago and on TV on paid media.”

Union’s $1 million commitment to Garcia highlights labor divisions in mayor’s race

On Tuesday, Lightfoot debuted an emotional new commercial featuring photos of her 94-year-old mother and highlighting the values instilled by her working-class parents.

Garcia’s longtime ally Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd) countered that the union’s poll merely “confirmed my suspicions that Chuy is going to be the next mayor of Chicago.”

Ed Maher, communications director for Local 150, said the poll — commissioned as an in-kind contribution to Garcia’s campaign — “made clear that Garcia has broad support across the city ... and that voters understand all of the positives that he will bring as mayor.”

Local 150’s poll was a text-to-web survey with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed responded on cellphones.

Measuring up: Mayoral field swells to 11 with Lightfoot, Garcia, other late filers

When voters were asked for whom they would vote “if the election for Mayor were held today,” Garcia led 10 candidates, including former Gov. Pat Quinn, with 25% to Lightfoot’s 18%. The only other candidates in double-digits were former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas with 14% and millionaire businessman Willie Wilson at 10%.

When voters were asked to identify their second choice, Garcia was the leader with 19%, followed by Wilson (11%); Vallas (10%); Quinn (8%) and Lightfoot (7%). Quinn announced Nov. 17 that he would not enter the mayoral race.

Impact Research also surveyed a series of head-to-head match-ups to simulate results of a runoff.

In a Lightfoot-vs.-Garcia runoff, Garcia got 55% to Lightfoot’s 24%, with 21% of those surveyed undecided. Vallas also defeats Lightfoot head-to-head, with 42% to Lightfoot’s 35%. The incumbent edges out Wilson 38% to 37 %.

Lightfoot’s public approval rating was 29%.

Respondents were 44% white, 33% African American and 17% Hispanic; 55% were women. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed were Black residents who live on the South Side. Lakefront voters comprised 27 percent. 67 percent were non-union households. Eighty-one percent of those questioned described themselves as “very,” “somewhat” or “moderate” progressives.

Not surprisingly, crime and public safety was foremost on the minds of voters.

When respondents were asked to identify “the most important issue in Chicago for the mayor and City Council to address,” 71% chose crime and public safety. Affordable housing and homelessness was a distant second with 24%, followed by schools and education at 22%.

During the run-up to the June 28 primary, a poll by Impact Research showed challenger Kari Steele handily defeating incumbent Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi. Despite a $1 million contribution to Steele’s campaign from Local 150, Kaegi won the race by 7 percentage points.

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