CHICAGO -- Third-party candidate Thomas Hynes withdrew from the mayoral race Sunday, narrowing the field of incumbent Harold Washington's challengers to two.
Washington, a Democrat and Chicago's first black mayor, faces Solidarity Party candidate Edward R. Vrdolyak and Republican Donald Haider in Tuesday's election.
'I have withdrawn because I believe the future of Chicago is too important,' Hynes announced at a campaign stop shortly after 5 p.m. He added that the 'people of Chicago deserve a real choice.'
Hynes, the Cook County assessor, was running on the Chicago First ticket. He did not throw his support to any of the remaining candidates, but suggested that either Vrdolyak or Haider should also drop out make it a one-on-one race.
'Mr. Vrdolyak and Mr. Haider must now confront the fact that Harold Washington will win if they both stay in the race,' he said.
Washington downplayed Hynes's move. 'I can't say I'm totally surprised,' the maryor said. 'We'll have to reassess it, but I don't think it will make any difference. We got the votes no matter who drops out.'
Alderman Roman Pucinski, who had been endorsing Hynes, said by telephone that he is now supporting Vrdolyak. 'This now turns into a tremendous fight,' he said. 'In my ward, Hynes's withdrawal will electrify the electorate and bring out a record vote.'
But Pucinski conceded that Hynes's move also will rally Washington supporters to the polls.
Hynes refused to elaborate on his decision, but a spokesman said his candidate saw no point in 'running for the silver medal.' The spokesman, Bob Benjamin, said no particular incident triggered the withdrawal.
'The key factor was the realization that Harold Washington cannot be beaten in a four-way race,' he said. 'Getting out allows the people to make a clearer choice for mayor of Chicago.'