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The Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus officially folded his long-shot mayoral campaign and endorsed Gery Chico for mayor Friday.

“After looking at all the candidates, I feel that Gery Chico can best represent Chicagoans at large,” De Jesus said.

De Jesus was losing his battle to prove he had gathered enough signatures to stay on the ballot and a Board of Elections hearing officer recommended he be removed.

While his endorsement goes to Chico, another beneficiary of his exit from the campaign could be mayoral candidate Miguel del Valle, who like De Jesus, comes from the Northwest Side Puerto Rican community, as opposed to Chico, who came from the Southwest Side Mexican-American community.

De Jesus said a key issue for him was education.

A former president of the Chicago Board of Education, Chico has announced a series of initiatives he says will improve city schools and give every public school student a laptop computer.

“We have 400,000 students and 50 percent of them are failing,” De Jesus said. “I want to get behind someone who’s going to put children first.”

De Jesus is the pastor of New Life Covenant Ministries and he was former Ald. Billy Ocasio’s choice to replace him when Ocasio left the City Council to become a senior advisor to Gov. Quinn.

But like the Rev. James Meeks, another minister who recently dropped out of the mayor’s race, De Jesus’ has spoken out against gay marriage. De Jesus’ coolness to gay rights proved controversial and Mayor Daley appointed Roberto Maldonado to the aldermanic seat.

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