Chico Emerging As Consensus Latino Candidate

With today’s endorsements by aldermen George Cardenas and Joe Moreno, and the rumored support of Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Gery Chico is emerging as the Latino community’s consensus candidate for mayor.

“He’s the real deal,” said Cardenas, who addressed the media in English and Spanish. “He’s part Mexican, part Lithuanian, part Greek, and God knows what else.”

That sums up Chico’s advantage over City Clerk Miguel del Valle, the other Latino candidate in the race. Chico has crossover appeal to white voters. Del Valle doesn’t.

Moreno’s predecessor as 1st Ward alderman, Manny Flores, follows Chico everywhere. Flores, who grew up in the suburbs and represented a mixed white and Latino ward that covers Bucktown, Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village is the epitome of the upscale Mexican-American politician. Chico is trying to present the same image.

Del Valle, a Northwest Side Puerto Rican, is running dead last in the polls. He’s invariably described as a “nice guy.” In Chicago politics, that’s code for “he’s not going to win.” If the race for the second spot in the run-off looks close, with Chico polling behind or barely ahead of one of the black candidates, del Valle will face pressure to drop out from other Latino politicians, who see Chico as their only viable contender.

One alderman believes that Chico will win a run-off against Rahm Emanuel, simply because of ethnic bloc voting. But Chico has to get into the run-off first. With only 15 percent of the city’s registered voters, Latinos can’t afford to divide their support.

In his news conference this morning, Chico also endorsed a Chicago casino, saying there are “enough locations in our city” and “we don’t want to squander this opportunity.”

Chico also showed that he’s not going to stop needling Emanuel for sending his children to private school.

“If you’re going to run (for mayor), you should have your kids go to public schools,” said Chico, whose children attended Von Steuben and Northside College Prep.

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