Less than 48 hours after he was easily reelected to a third term, 4th District Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) announced on Nov. 10 that he is entering the race to be the mayor of Chicago. On Tuesday, Garcia easily defeated Republican James Falakos capturing 68% of the vote.
The 4th Congressional District stretches from the southwest side of Chicago through the West Side, particularly part of North Lawndale, and to the near west suburbs.
During a press conference held Thursday at Navy Pier, the veteran progressive Congressman said that he was coming home to serve the city that he has lived in since immigrating from Mexico.
“I’ve had many titles in my life: community organizer, county commissioner, alderman, state senator and now congressman — but the most important title to me is Chicagoan,” said Garcia. “Little Village, on the southwest side, has been my home for the past 53 years.”
Garcia is joining a crowded field of challengers who have already announced that they are running against incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot. That field includes First District Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, whose district spans much of Proviso Township.
Garcia, 66, is the most experienced of the challengers and has the biggest profile. Garcia has been involved in Chicago politics for all of his adult life. He was a strong supporter of Harold Washington, when Washington was elected Chicago’s first Black mayor in 1983. Garcia timed his mayor announcement to be 40 years to the day after Washington announced his bid for mayor in 1982. Like Garcia, Washington was a congressman when he ran for mayor.
In 2015, Garcia ran for mayor and lost to Rahm Emmanuel in a runoff, winning nearly 44% of the vote. Back then, Garcia had the support of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) but this time around the CTU is backing Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson for mayor. Johnson, an Austin resident, has worked as a CTU organizer.
Garcia’s entry into the race sets up a battle with Johnson for progressive votes. While Garcia stressed his ties to Harold Washington, Johnson has said that it is time for new leadership. Johnson, 46, was also recently endorsed by SEIU Local 73 and is also backed by United Working Families and progressive groups on the northwest side of Chicago.
In his announcement speech, Garcia stressed his governing experience at the local, state and federal levels.
“I’m the only candidate in this race with the experience of serving this city at every level of government,” Garcia said, adding that he would promote equitable economic development and vowed to address crime.
“But first we’ve got to get a handle on the violence and crime in our city,” Garcia said. “Chicagoans are more worried than ever. The rate of carjackings, armed robberies and unsolved homicides is alarming. We need a leader who has the lived experience of our neighborhood. We need a leader who understands that violence prevention and reduction starts in our neighborhoods with investment in mental health, jobs and our youth.”
Lightfoot’s campaign quickly struck back at Garcia.
“While Mayor Lightfoot is doing the hard work of leading our city through challenging times, career politician Congressman Garcia is prioritizing his own ambitions,” Lightfoot spokeswoman Christina Freundlich said in a statement.
“Now, a mere 36 hours after voters reelected him to Congress, and as Republicans prepare to use their new slim majority to strip away our rights, Mr. Garcia is abandoning ship and going after a fellow progressive Democrat,” the statement added. “That’s not the tough, principled leadership our city needs.”