Emanuel & García Face Off Before Runoff Election

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesús "Chuy" García will face each other three times before the April 7 runoff election. The candidates have agreed to appear on NBC 5/Telemundo in a debate in conjunction with The University of Chicago's Institute of Politics on March 16, on FOX 32 on March 26, and in a joint forum on Chicago Tonight on March 31.

“Voters face a critical decision when they go to the polls in six weeks," Emanuel said in a statement. "After five healthy debates about the future of our city, I’m looking forward to directly debating Chuy García about our records and our ideas, so that voters can see the clear choice they face. We’ll compare what we plan to do and how we plan to get it done so voters can choose which direction they want to take the city: going back to the politics of denying and deferring our problems, or continuing to move forward to create jobs and expand opportunity for every child in every neighborhood.”

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The García campaign did not send an official statement but confirmed that they have agreed to the debates. 

The news comes as a new poll by We Ask America, commissioned by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, has Emanuel up 49 percent to 38 percent, with undecided votes at around 16 percent. The poll purports to show Emanuel performing better among African-American and Caucasian voters, but trailing García among likely Latino voters. The poll surveyed 1,138 likely voters.

Emanuel and García were forced into a runoff on Tuesday, Feb. 24 because neither candidate secured 50 percent of the vote. Emanuel finished with 45 percent to García's 34 percent.  

The mayor won the African-American vote but did not do as well as he did in 2011.

Yesterday, the mayor visited former candidate Willie Wilson seeking his endorsement. Wilson has not yet endorsed a candidate.

Last night, Emanuel said he and García have traded phone messages but have yet to connect. Emanuel acknowledged that his personal style may have hindered his ability to get the 50 percent plus one majority he needed to avoid a runoff.

"I can sometimes be so pushy that I can sometimes give people the perception I'm not listening," the mayor told Phil Ponce. He said that his strength was his ability to be hard-driving and get things done, but it was also his weakness.

Watch Emanuel's full interview with Ponce below.

García talked with Ponce on Wednesday. Watch that interview below.

View a map of votes cast for Emanuel and García in Tuesday’s election. Click on the ward to learn the percentage of votes each candidate received. Wards in which Emanuel received a higher percentage of votes than García are colored red. Wards in which García received a higher percentage of votes than Emanuel are colored green.

Source: Chicago Board of Elections

--Map by Evan Garcia and Kristen Thometz

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