Mayor Eugene Sawyer, an obscure alderman elevated to the city's top job after the death of Harold Washington, has launched his campaign to retain the post against a field of challengers and low standings in the polls.

"I look forward to the contest. I know it won't be easy," Sawyer, 54, told about 700 supporters at a rally Sunday in the ballroom of a downtown Chicago hotel.Sawyer's candidacy began as a new poll showed him trailing Cook County State's Attorney Richard M. Daley in a one-on-one race for the Democratic nomination. They and several other candidates are seeking to serve out the remaining two years of Washington's second four-year term.