Jesus "Chuy" Garcia
b. April 12, 1956
Cook County, 7th District Commissioner (2010-2018)
Illinois, State Senate (1992-1998)
Chicago, 22nd Ward Alderman (1986-1992)
Chicago, 22nd Ward Democratic Committeeman (1984-1994)
Jesus Garcia's political career began as campaign manager for Rudy Lozano, who ran in 1983 for 22nd Ward alderman against the organization incumbent, Frank Stermberk. Lozano, a popular independent candidate who embodied much of the surrounding Mexican community's growing power and restlessness, was then murdered in his home a few months after the election. While a local gang member was convicted of the crime, many Lozano supporters still contend the motivation was Lozano's growing political power.
Garcia took up the banner of Lozano's cause and ran against Stermberk for for Democratic Committeeman in 1984, this time with the support of newly-elected Mayor Harold Washington. Garcia won the election, and to give Garcia some breathing room, Washington gave Garcia a job as Deputy Commissioner of the Water Department. Then, in 1986, following a U.S. Supreme Court ordered remap of so-called "plantation wards" that were gerrymandered to distribute minority voters so white ethnic aldermen could stay in office, Garcia ran for 22nd Ward Aldermen, defeating a disarrayed Democratic organization. With the election of Garcia and others, Washington now had a majority of votes in City Council.
In 1992, another district remap created a new Latino-majority State Senate seat. Garcia handily won that seat, then engineered the appointment of his aldermanic chief of staff, Ricardo Munoz to replace him in City Council.
With the rise of Mayor Richard M. Daley's power, the mid-1990's saw the creation of the Hispanic Democratic Organization, a patronage and political organization created to control aldermanic and political seats across Chicago. HDO's first major election push, in 1996, saw 25th Ward Ald. Juan Soliz unsuccessfully running against Garcia for State Senate. But in 1998, HDO won a number of state legislative and county commissioner seats, including Chicago Police officer Antonio Munoz' victory over Garcia for State Senate.
Out of elected office for the first time in 12 years, Garcia stayed in his native Little Village community and helped to create and manage a number of local non-profit social service agencies.
Staying relevant and keeping up his name recognition, Garcia was able to defeat incumbent Cook County Commissioner Mario Moreno in 2010, in part because of a consistent buzz of federal investigations around him. Moreno would later plead guilty to bribery charges and go to federal prison for crimes committed while in office. After the election, he was named Toni Preckwinkle's floor leader.
In 2014, with little city-wide name recognition, Garcia became a surprise candidate for Mayor when Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who had been planning to run but was diagnosed with cancer, threw her support behind him against Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In a four-way race including Robert Fioretti and Willie Wilson, Garcia managed to push Emanuel to a runoff race. However, Emanuel's well-honed campaign operation and the support of most African American aldermen gave Emanuel a commanding majority on runoff election day.
Even after the 2015 mayoral election, Garcia stayed on the national stage, campaigning alongside progressive presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the 2016 race in Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Wisconsin, New York, and Arizona.
In November 2017, 14-term Congressman Luis Gutierrez announced he would not run for re-election and endorsed Garcia for his spot. Garcia entered the race with several advantages: high name recognition, continued popularity on the Southwest Side, and a head start in a short timeline to collect signatures to run.
"My candidacy builds on the legacy of Mayor Harold Washington, the foresight and energy that brought young people together for Sen. Bernie Sanders and the work of Rep. Gutiérrez," Garcia said.
Important Political Events
- 1984, Elected 22nd Ward Democratic Committeeman, defeating Frank Stemberk and August Sallas
- 1986, Elected 22nd Ward Alderman, defeating Guadalupe Martinez replacing Frank Stemberk
- 1987, Reelected 22nd Ward Alderman, defeating August Sallas, Peter Sandoval and Jesse Ramos
- 1992, Elected State Senator, defeating Donald C. Smith replacing Howie Carroll
- 1996, Reelected State Senator, defeating Juan Soliz
- 1998, Defeated for State Senator by Antonio Munoz
- 2010, Elected Cook County Commissioner, defeating Mario Moreno
- 2015, Defeated for Mayor by Rahm Emanuel
- 2017, Announces run for U.S. Representative of the 4th District, replacing Luis Gutierrez
Chicago Politics Ward by Ward, David K. Fremon