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Chicago runoff? Despite big lead, Rahm Emanuel may come up just short.

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“We have a robust field operation. If we’re doing our jobs right, there’s going to be a runoff,” he said at an afternoon press stop at a restaurant in Pilsen, a largely Mexican neighborhood just south of downtown.

Chico’s increase of 4 percentage points since the last Tribune/WGN poll in January coincides with a sharper tone in his campaign. Since late January, Chico has been capitalizing on Emanuel’s plan to initiate a tax on luxury services such as pet grooming and private club memberships to make up for his proposed reduction in the city’s total sales-tax rate.

Chico has used the proposal to suggest Emanuel is waging war on working families and says it will hurt small businesses like barber shops and local gyms.

Chico calls Emanuel elitist

There is also the issue of pedigree. Chico continues to portray Emanuel as an elitist who is out of touch with working families. At a debate sponsored by the Urban League and Fox News Chicago Thursday, Chico returned to his personal narrative as a child born on the city’s southwest side as a way of explaining he understood issues like street violence.

“There are people like Mr. Emanuel, who grew up in the wealthy North Shore and probably never experienced that,” he said.

Chico may also be benefiting from the missteps of Ms. Braun, who once occupied second place in the polls but whose support has diminished in recent weeks, putting her in third place at 10 percent, 11 percentage points from where she was last month.

Braun’s campaign has suffered from several gaffes, including her initial refusal to release her federal and state tax returns and her demand that the Chicago Sun-Times fire a local columnist she called a “verified drunk and a wife beater” after he wrote a column criticizing her campaign.

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