Chicago voters head to polls for mayor's race

Chicago Voters Return to Polls for Mayoral Runoff Election

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago voters head to the polls Tuesday in the city's first mayoral runoff as Rahm Emanuel seeks a second term over Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

The candidates crisscrossed Chicago a day earlier to greet commuters, rally supporters and call voters. Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff, has tried to convince the public he's the best person to navigate Chicago's mounting fiscal problems. Garcia has criticized Emanuel for not listening to neighborhood residents and touted a strong get-out-the-vote effort.

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Chicago mayoral race updated 4/7/15
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Chicago voters head to polls for mayor's race
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 6: Supporters for Cook County Commissioner and candidate for mayor of Chicago Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia stand outside his headquarters April 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Garcia is challenging current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in tomorrow's run-off election after Emanuel was unable to get a majority vote in February's election. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 6: Cook County Commissioner and candidate for mayor of Chicago Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia poses next to a newspaper box displayed with cartoon drawings of him before greeting commuters outside the Damen Avenue Blue Line station April 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Garcia is challenging current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in tomorrow's run-off election after Emanuel was unable to get a majority vote in February's election. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 6: Cook County Commissioner and candidate for mayor of Chicago Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia speaks to supporters outside his headquarters April 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Garcia is challenging current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in tomorrow's run-off election after Emanuel was unable to get a majority vote in February's election. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 24: Chicago Mayoral candidate Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia arrives at his polling place to vote on election day February 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Recent polls show Garcia is running second to incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose close lead is not currently predicted to be large enough to avoid a runoff election. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 24: Chicago Mayoral candidate Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia speaks to the press after casting his ballot on election day February 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Recent polls show Garcia is running second to incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose close lead is not currently predicted to be large enough to avoid a runoff election. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 24: Chicago Mayoral candidate Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia leaves a polling place with his wife Evelyn after they voted on election day February 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Recent polls show Garcia is running second to incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose close lead is not currently predicted to be large enough to avoid a runoff election. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 24: Chicago Mayoral candidate Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia gives a thumbs up sign after voting on election day February 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Recent polls show Garcia is running second to incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose close lead is not currently predicted to be large enough to avoid a runoff election. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 24: Chicago Mayoral candidate Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia votes on election day February 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Recent polls show Garcia is running second to incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose close lead is not currently predicted to be large enough to avoid a runoff election. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 24: With his wife Evelyn by his side, Chicago Mayoral candidate Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia speaks to the press after casting his ballot on election day February 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Recent polls show Garcia is running second to incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose close lead is not currently predicted to be large enough to avoid a runoff election. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 24: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (C) speaks to the press after leaving a restaurant where he had lunch with U.S. Representative Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (L) and Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza on election day February 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Emanuel, who is up for re-election, leads the polls, but not with enough votes to avoid a runoff election. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 24: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel leaves a restaurant after having lunch with U.S. Representative Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza on election day February 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Emanuel, who is up for re-election, leads the polls, but not with enough votes to avoid a runoff election. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 23: Chicago Mayoral candidate Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia greets workers during a campaign stop at a linen and uniform service company on February 23, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Recent polls show Garcia is running second to incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel whose lead is not currently large enough to avoid a runoff election. Chicago residents go to the polls Tuesday, February 24. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 23: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks with residents at a senior living center during a campaign stop on February 23, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Emanuel leads the polls but, not with enough votes to avoid a runoff election. Chicago residents go to the polls Tuesday, February 24. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 24: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (R) has lunch with Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White on election day February 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Emanuel, who is up for re-election, leads the polls, but not with enough votes to avoid a runoff election. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 23: Chicago Mayoral candidate Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia greets workers during a campaign stop at a linen and uniform service company on February 23, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Recent polls show Garcia is running second to incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel whose lead is not currently large enough to avoid a runoff election. Chicago residents go to the polls Tuesday, February 24. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 23: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks with residents at a senior living center during a campaign stop on February 23, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Emanuel leads the polls but, not with enough votes to avoid a runoff election. Chicago residents go to the polls on Tuesday, February 24. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 23: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel leaves a senior living center following a campaign stop on February 23, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Emanuel leads the polls but, not with enough votes to avoid a runoff election. Chicago residents go to the polls Tuesday, February 24. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 6: Cook County Commissioner and candidate for mayor of Chicago Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia smiles as he waits to greet commuters at the 79th Street Red Line station April 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Garcia is challenging current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in tomorrow's run-off election after Emanuel was unable to get a majority vote in February's election. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 6: Cook County Commissioner and candidate for mayor of Chicago Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia (C) greets a commuter outside the Damen Avenue Blue Line station April 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Garcia is challenging current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in tomorrow's run-off election after Emanuel was unable to get a majority vote in February's election. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 6: Cook County Commissioner and candidate for mayor of Chicago Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia (C) greets commuters outside the Damen Avenue Blue Line station April 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Garcia is challenging current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in tomorrow's run-off election after Emanuel was unable to get a majority vote in February's election. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 6: Campaign workers for Chicago's mayor and candidate for re-election Rahm Emanuel listen to him speak to reporters during a news conference at his campaign office April 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Emanuel is challenging Cook County Commissioner Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia for Chicago Mayor in tomorrow's April 7th run-off election, after Emanuel was unable to get a majority vote in February's general election. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 6: Cook County Commissioner and candidate for mayor of Chicago Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia waits to greet commuters at the 79th Street Red Line station April 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Garcia is challenging current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in tomorrow's run-off election after Emanuel was unable to get a majority vote in February's election. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 6: Chicago's mayor and candidate for re-election Rahm Emanuel, left, calls a voter on a mobile phone to remind them to vote as he sits with his campaign workers April 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Emanuel is challenging Cook County Commissioner Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia for Chicago Mayor in tomorrow's April 7th run-off election, after Emanuel was unable to get a majority vote in February's general election. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 6: Cook County Commissioner and candidate for mayor of Chicago, Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia (L) greets a young commuter outside the 79th Street Red Line station April 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Garcia is challenging current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in tomorrow's run-off election after Emanuel was unable to get a majority vote in February's election. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 24: Mary Lambros casts her vote at a polling place on election day February 24, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is hoping to win re-election tonight but polls indicate he may not get enough votes to avoid a runoff election. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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Here are some things to know about Tuesday:

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EARLY VOTING SURGE

The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners says more than 142,300 residents voted early, compared with nearly 90,000 ahead of the February election and roughly 73,200 before the 2011 election.

Both campaigns emphasized early voting, with the candidates casting ballots ahead of Tuesday. Still, election officials have been uncertain about how many early votes may have been due to Chicagoans trying to vote before heading out on spring break vacations.

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CHICAGO'S FIRST RUNOFF

The mayoral runoff is Chicago's first since the city adopted nonpartisan elections in the 1990s. Emanuel failed to win a majority in February's first-round election. He finished first in the five-candidate field, winning 45 percent, while Garcia came in second with roughly 34 percent.

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WHAT'S AT STAKE

Chicago's next mayor faces major issues, including the worst-funded pensions of any major U.S. city, upcoming contract negotiations with a teachers union that went on strike in 2012 and a persistent crime problem. The leader of the nation's third-largest city will also have to attract new residents and businesses.

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EMANUEL'S CAMPAIGN

Emanuel has tried to convince voters that controversial actions - such as closing dozens of schools in 2013 - were beneficial. But in the process he's admitted his famously aggressive approach could have been softer. He's also tried to poke holes in his opponent's experience.

Emanuel spent Monday shaking hands with the breakfast crowd and calling voters. He told reporters he's been reminding people of his achievements: lobbying successfully for full-day kindergarten and a higher minimum wage.

"People going to the polls are interested in Chicago's future," he said. "They're voting for the basic things that they want for their families, their neighborhoods and their communities."

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GARCIA'S CHALLENGE

Garcia's message has been that he'll focus on every neighborhood, and he says Emanuel has largely paid attention to the wealthy and businesses. He's also played on frustrations with schools and violence.

Supporters - including the Rev. Jesse Jackson - rallied Monday in the heavily Mexican Pilsen neighborhood. They blasted Emanuel for not taking down widely criticized red-light cameras, while praising Garcia for meeting with residents over noise complaints near O'Hare International Airport.

"We weren't supposed to be here. We were counted out," Garcia told supporters. "People had their say in Chicago."

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