POLITICS

Miguel del Valle and Gery Chico Try to Force Runoff, Stop Rahm Emanuel in Chicago Election

The two underdog candidates vying to become Chicago's first Latino mayor will find out Tuesday if their uphill battle to topple front-runner Rahm Emanuel has paid off.

Gery Chico and Miguel del Valle are hoping that Chicagoans, who hit the polls in the long-awaited nonpartisan election, will choose one of them to replace outgoing mayor Richard Daley.

The only thing that seemingly stands in their way is Rahm Emanuel. The perceived favorite in the race has big name recognition – which carries with it an official endorsement from former President Bill Clinton and a coy nod from President Barack Obama – as well as heavyweight fundraising and a substantial lead in the polls.

A Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll showed 49 percent of respondents said they would vote Emanuel, compared to 19 percent for Chico and 8 percent del Valle, the city clerk.

Carol Moseley Braun, a former U.S. senator, is also a viable candidate; the poll found that 10 percent of respondents would vote for her.

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But among Latino respondents, Chico was the favorite, with 38 percent favoring him; 34 percent backed Emanuel, 18 percent preferred del Valle and three percent chose Moseley Braun.

The polls opened at 6 a.m. central time and close at 7 p.m.

Already, the social media landscape was lighting up with calls to vote and predictions.

"So, when do they announce Rahm Emanuel as the mayor of Chicago?" one person wrote on the Twitter conversation #electionday.

"What will it be in Chicago: first jewish mayor, first hispanic mayor of first black female mayor," wrote another on hash tag #chicagomayor.

The race has attracted national attention, largely because of Emanuel. The former White House chief of staff was nearly booted off the ballot after his residency came into question and a lower court and the city Board of Election ruled him ineligible to run.

The state Supreme Court ultimately overruled that decision and put his name back on the ballot.

Now, Chico, the former Chicago schools president and Daley's former chief of staff, and del Valle likely stand the best chance to knock off Emanuel by forcing a runoff.

The winner of Tuesday's election must secure 50 percent of the vote to win outright. Short of that, the top two vote-getters must do it again on April 5.

You can reach Wil Cruz at wil.cruz@foxnewslatino.com.

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