Ward Room blogger Mary Ann Ahern has been hard at work following the leading candidates for mayor this final Sunday before Election Day. She's uncovered some interesting tidbits, including a less-than optimistic comment from frontrunner Rahm Emanuel late this afternoon. Read on for more.
10:07 a.m. -- Where do you go for votes on the Sunday before an election day? The Rev. Sen. James Meeks' church, of course. Carol Moseley Braun, Gery Chico and Rahm Emanuel have back-to-back appearances at the House of Hope today.
Meeks, of course, originally wanted to be mayor, too, but gave up his campaign in December. Miguel del Valle is stopping at the Rev. Michael Pfleger's St Sabina's -- so it's more than prayers they're all seeking this Sunday.
At Meeks' church, they even hug reporters. The parishioners at 114th Street on the South Side are on their feet - with music loud enough to be heard at City Hall.
"They crowned his head with thorns" is belted out and, "blood came streaming down." (Makes you wonder who made the song selection this week.)
This is more than a church service, this is perhaps the candidates' last chance to convert any undecided voters. Meeks ushers the candidates to the podium, proclaiming, "I'm grateful to be alive." Meeks says "somebody is going to be mayor of the city of Chicago." He jokes "I'm much more fonder of his wife than him -- Sunny Chico I love, Gery Chico, I tolerate."
Meeks refers to "my 5 minutes on the campaign trail," while Chico says he "grew fond of Meeks."
Speaking to the massive congregation, Chico immediately tackles school vouchers and notes Meeks' "passion for education."
"We don't have just a food desert, we have a jobs desert -- blocks and blocks of nothing going on," Chico added.
Update 10:52 a.m. -- "Don't let the media tell you who the candidate is" says Chico. "I'm going to break down the mistrust between the Hispanic and African American community."
In Meeks' prayer with Chico before he leaves, Meeks says, "we pray for fairness."
Update 11:06 a.m. -- Next up is Rahm Emanuel, who arrives after the choir delivers a rousing "let the redeemed of the Lord say so."
According to the Sun-Times' Michael Sneed, the word is White House staffers are in town knocking on doors for Emanuel.
Meeks says "the first call I received on any candidate was Rahm Emanuel. He said to me, 'Let's make this a race about the issues and not about each other.'"
Emanuel's kids and wife are here, too. Emanuel says to the choir, "I could have used you at the White House. I'm a little nervous -- used to speaking at a podium, not a pulpit."
Emanuel speaks of his son's Bar Mitzvah in Israel, and repeats Bible verses.
Emanuel speaks of working for two great presidents. "No struggle is harder or more difficult than when I see kids with no sense of hope," adding, "I want to be on a journey with you."
He jokes about working for Clinton and Obama, "I was 6 ft 2 and 250 then," referring to Clinton's comment that Emanuel is short in stature, but big in the ways that matter.
He mentions Obama and Clinton three times, and also jokes about "the word resident." Emanuel then noted, "The licks I take are nothing compared to the licks our kids will take if we don't turn the city around."
Meeks prays with Emanuel, "it might be your will that you be the next mayor -- be fair to the North Side, to the South Side."
Update 11:19 a.m. -- Chicago Board of Elections corrects an earlier error about absentee voting times. In-person absentee voting is being offered today through noon and on Mon., Feb. 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the lower level at 69 W. Washington St.
Update 11:54 a.m. -- Carol Moseley Braun doesn't make it to Meeks' church as her schedule announced, but is at her second stop, Apostolic Church of God. (Emanuel was here at 9 a.m., his family came to the pulpit with him).
A large crowd is here at Apostolic. This is where then-Sen. Barack Obama gave his impassioned speech about men being better dads. Braun seated in the front row.
Update 12:23 p.m. -- The choir sings, "You're All I Need," and it may just be what Carol Moseley Braun will be humming come Tuesday. Dr. Byron Brazier introduces Braun after the choir's second tune, "Standing in the Need of Prayer" and reminds parishioners, "Tuesday is going to be sunny, go vote."
Braun tells the churchgoers "I want to share a few simple truths. I will be on your side."
She mentions foreclosures, being Harold Washington's floor leader and says she "fought the Confederate flag and I won" as she ticks off her resume.
"I have never profited personally from my service," Braun adds.
She mentions "blood in Englewood" and the difficulty some African Americans have had at getting jobs. Braun then details Emanuel's voting record on African American issues.
"Whose side will you stand?" she asks. "In the end it is up to all of you."
Update 12:51 p.m. -- Braun explains missing Meeks church as "someone in the campaign got it wrong. I called Reverend Meeks and he understands." She then alludes to his parishioners as a large suburban congregation and Apostolic having more city members.
Update 2:03 p.m. -- Miguel Del Valle, at a North Side restaurant, pushes for a runoff saying "everyone tells me I won the debates. We need more debates. We can't let the million dollars win," and refers to Emanuel and Chico as "being cut from the same cloth." Del Valle says he is convinced "the media is wrong. There will be a runoff."
Update 2:10 p.m. -- Cook County States Atty Anita Alvarez says campaign misdeeds may already be happening, and says her office has already had to "deal with" an aldermanic candidate who is a masseuse and was offering free massages to voters.
Update 3:19 p.m. -- Emanuel, a half hour late to his Northwest Side election headquarters, says "everybody regardless of where you are has the same set of beliefs." As for Chico's claims that Emanuel is a suburban carpetbagger, he said, "people can say whatever they want about me ... It's not what neighborhood you grew up in, it's if you're going to fight for neighborhoods."
As for the possibility of a runoff, Emanuel said, "my focus is going into the voting they know the battles I've taken." He adds, "It may take two bites of the apple. Who knows?"
He also admits "There are friends of mine from the White House here out of friendship."