It's been 64 years since Chicago picked a mayor without an incumbent running.
Voters headed to the polls Tuesday to make their choice among six candidates: Rahm Emanuel, Miguel del Valle, Carol Moseley Braun, Gery Chico, Patricia Van Pelt Watkins and William Walls, III, in the order they appear on the ballot.
|*Jump to Latest Updates|
If one candidate gets more than 50 percent, he or she will win the race outright. If not, the top two vote getters will face off in an April election.
Emanuel currently is polling beyond 50 percent as the clear front-runner, but political analysts say that with around 10 percent of Chicagoans still undecided, the race could see a runoff.
** Our coverage here has ended. Please review Ward Room for full coverage of the Chicago Municipal Election.
Update: 8:07 p.m. -- The Associated Press projects Rahm Emanuel as the next mayor of Chicago.
Update 8:05 p.m. -- Carol Moseley Braun, the consensus black candidate, also loses badly.
Update 7:57 -- Miguel del Valle will concede the race. He has less than 10 percent of the vote.
Update: 7:55 p.m. -- CNN has projected Rahm Emanuel the winner in the mayoral race. NBC Chicago has not called the race.
Update 7:30 -- Early returns coming in and looking good for Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico. Follow Along: NBCChicago.com: Election Results
Update 7:05 -- Polls are now closed. Log on to Facebook.com/nbcchicago or Twitter.com/ward_room and let us know how you voted.
Update 7:00 -- We're live on NBC Chicago Nonstop until 10 p.m. An extended edition of the NBC 5 News will air from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. We're offering a livestream of both broadcasts on NBCChicago.com.
Update 6:20 -- One Rahm Emanuel insider suggests "it will be close but no cigar" tonight - thinking it will be very tough to get 50 percent plus one. He adds "we may be pressed up against it - 48 or 49 percent.". However, another Emanuel insider believes a high lakefront turnout and a low turnout elsewhere will give Emanuel what he needs to avoid a runoff. That source says "he will just make it.".
Update 5:40 p.m. -- In a statement Del Valle says he's "VERY Upset" "I thought we were over this behavior" "it's remnants of the old machine" [Read More....]
Update 5:34 -- @3100 W. 40th street, Del Valle volunteers are leaving because they feel intimidated. Lawyers heading there now.
Update 5:30 -- Board of Elections Chief Langdon Neil speculates that voter turnout is sluggish because the Chicago electorate is fatigued. He says the lower turnout will make the margins that much closer. With closer margins, there is an extra emphasis on counting each and every vote.
Update 5:15 p.m. -- Commuter greeting Rahm Emanuel at El stop, "Congratulations, Mr. Mayor." Emanuel responsds, "Not yet." He'll be at Merchandise Mart this evening.
Update 5:15 p.m. -- Del Valle workers claim to our team that they have been threatened by police for handing out campaign literature in the 14th Ward. Communication manager says Edward Burke workers are nearby. Our reporters are working to confirm.
Update 5:00 p.m. -- Just two hours until the polls close. Have you cast your ballot yet?
Update: 4:45 p.m. -- The story so far is about low voter turnout for the Chicago mayors race. The folks over at Huffington Post are hearing about staggeringly low levels in the 25th Ward. Ward Room is hearing similar stories.
Update 3 p.m. -- Readers writing in to say polling places still look pretty vacant.
Update 2:35 p.m. -- Aldermanic candidate Che "Rhymefest" Smith says politics is a lot like music: you have to reach as many people as possible and market what you do well. [Watch Video...]
Update 2:13 p.m. -- Want to hang out with the big four candidates tonight? Here's where they're expected to be: Del Valle at Revolution Brewing, 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave.; Emanuel at Stephen M. Bailey Auditorium, 1340 W. Washington Blvd.; Chico at Westin Chicago River North, 320 N. Dearborn Ave.; Moseley Braun at Parkway Ballroom, 4455 South King Drive.
Update 2:07 p.m. -- Looks like some interesting parking scenarios in the 47th ward.
Update 1:30 p.m. -- One polling spot improvising after an elevator broke at 2505 East 79th St. broke, the Tribune reports. Judges have been going downstairs to help senior voters who can't get upstairs.
Update 1:24 p.m. -- Emanuel's "war room" in a South Loop ofice building is the candidate's nerve center on Election Day. Staffers are in constant motion, the lead team set up in a conference room with cell phones and laptops ready. They are trained at scanning voting trends and predicting how the race is looking and where more volunteers are needed. Also sighted in the hallway is 13-year-old Zachariah Emanuel seemingly soaking in the political history.
Update 12:45 p.m. -- Miguel del Valle grabs lunch at Mellow Yellow in Hyde Park (he's having chili mac) when a woman sitting behind him says she's voting for him right after lunch. Tina Brown told NBC she's had a good feeling about Del Valle for the past couple of weeks, but seeing him today gave her a feeling. "I consider it a sign," Brown said. [Read more... Watch Video...]
Update 12:14 p.m. -- Emanuel makes lunchtime stops at Lou Mitchell's, Berghoff to meet and greet lunchers. For his own lunch, Emanuel heads to Manny's Deli for corned beef sammies. So far reports show low voter turnout. Could the morning snow and ice have affected the numbers?
Update noon -- A police report has been filed concerning a fight that allegedly broke out around 10:30 am at a polling place on the 5800 block of East Elston. Someone brought a basket into the polling place with a thank you note from a candidate. When a supporter of a rival candidate complained about the basket, an argument ensued and a punch was thrown.
Update 11 a.m. -- One of the Board of Elections' 169 reported electioneering complaints, 727 equipment issues, 383 poll worker or judge issues, and 195 supply issues, according to The Chicago Tribune, included Ald. Rey Colon (35th Ward) delivering coffee emblazoned with his name to every precinct in the ward. His name was ordered to be removed. Another incident involved a pastor who overslept and opened New Heritage Cathedral at 5848 S. Princeton Ave. 50 minutes late.
Update 10:40 a.m. -- Chico is voter No. 46 at his polling place. Pretty light turnout so far.
Update 10:10 a.m. -- Emanuel shows up to a brief meeting with volunteers, Dunkin' Donuts in hand. "The thing that gives me the strength to keep going is love people have for this city," Emanuel says during the 10-minute visit. He tells volunteers they haven't won anything yet.
Update 9:30 a.m. -- Election officials in Chicago's 24th precinct attempt to bar the news media from access at Gery Chico's polling place, in direct violation of Election Board policy. Even after reporters and cameras were granted access, investigators circulated, demanding credentials and other documentation.
Update 7:50 a.m. -- Rahm Emanuel is stationed at a Red Line El stop with his daughters and son. Most commuters stop to shake his hand and even his daughters' hands. A few people take photos with him and wait to talk with him.
Update 6 a.m. -- Polls open. A couple voters arrive right away. Chicago Election Board Chairman Langdon D. Neal tells NBC 5 he doesn't think weather will affect voter turnout. "This is a pretty perfect day for voting as far as I'm concerned," Neal said. "No excuses there, we expect our voters to be out and strong today."