As he mulls a race for Chicago mayor, U.S. Rep. ‘Chuy’ Garcia backs City Council candidates

While U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia hasn’t decided if he will run for Chicago mayor again this year, he plans to influence local politics by endorsing a slate of candidates for City Council.

In recent years, Garcia has emerged as a major power broker in Illinois politics, backing progressive candidates for the statehouse and Chicago City Council and twice being a key behind the scenes figure in battles over the state Democratic Party chairmanship.

On Wednesday, Garcia announced he will support labor advocate Ana Guajardo to succeed retiring 10th ward Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza. Garcia also said he will back Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya’s chief of staff, Jeylu Gutierrez, against once-powerful, now-indicted 14th Ward Ald. Edward Burke.

In addition to supporting newcomers, Garcia reiterated his support for longtime ally Ald. Mike Rodriguez, who holds Garcia’s former 22nd Ward seat.

Next year will bring “a historic round of elections and a great opportunity to ensure that Chicagoans of all walks of life have a fresh opportunity to elect new, fresh, ethical energetic leadership to the Chicago City Council,” Garcia said.

Garcia’s support brings credibility to candidates but doesn’t guarantee victory.

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While Garcia has had numerous successes as an endorser, he also has had noteworthy defeats, particularly in the 2019 cycle. That year, Garcia supported civil engineer Tanya Patino in her unsuccessful campaign to defeat Burke on the Southwest Side. But he also backed community organizer Hilario Dominguez’s losing effort to replace Ald. Danny Solis — who secretly wore a recording device while cooperating with the FBI in the cases against Burke and former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan — in the Pilsen-centered 25th Ward.

Asked how the 14th Ward race might be different this time, Garcia noted the electorate has changed because of the new ward map drawn earlier this year, as well as a greater awareness of Burke’s federal criminal charges. Burke has not said if he will run again and has denied wrongdoing. He has represented the 14th Ward since 1969.

“The new configuration of the ward chips away at some of the areas of the ward that were lopsided pro-Trump and pro-Burke. So this is a new majority, I think, of electors that can decide the fate of the 14th Ward,” Garcia said. “Chicago has elected numerous progressives, young progressives, to the Chicago City Council over the last two rounds, and this will not be an exception. This is about self-determination, empowerment, and ethical governance and hard-working individuals who are prepared to lead.”

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