Chuy Garcia not running for mayor of Chicago

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County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has decided not to run for mayor, a surprise move with potential to boost the mayoral campaign of County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Last week, Garcia’s supporters were telling everyone who would listen that their man would join the crowded race for mayor to succeed Rahm Emanuel.

Four years ago, Garcia forced Emanuel into Chicago’s first-ever mayoral runoff even though he got a late start, was out-spent by a four-to-one margin and Preckwinkle refused to endorse Garcia, who served as her County Board floor leader.

This time, Garcia firmly believed he could capitalize on his strong showing in the March primary as the anointed Democratic congressional nominee who carried all of the candidates he endorsed.

That included Aaron Ortiz, a 26-year-old Garcia-backed political newcomer who defeated State Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago) in a race dominated by Edward Burke’s property tax reduction work for Trump International Hotel and Tower.

But on Monday, Garcia gathered his kitchen cabinet together to tell them that he had decided not to enter the mayor’s race in spite of the “Draft Chuy” movement launched by retiring U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago).

At least part of Garcia’s reasoning has to do with money.

Last time, nearly all of the $6 million he raised came from progressive unions: the Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU Local 1.

This time, SEIU Local 1 was firmly in Preckwinkle’s corner. And the CTU was non-committal and expected to remain so.

“Without SEIU or CTU, where would his money have come from,” said a source familiar with Garcia’s decision-making.

“He would have been forced to forge a brown-white coalition with the business community. His old friends—the people who have been with him since the `70’s and `80’s—were not comfortable with that. That didn’t want to do that.”

Garcia’s decision to take his seat in Congress does not mean that he and Preckwinkle have mended fences.

In fact, Garcia still holds a grudge for her decision about her decision to withhold her support in the 2015 mayoral race and take sides against virtually all of the candidates Garcia endorsed in March.

But, even if there is no détente, Garcia’s decision to take a pass is widely viewed as a potential boon to Preckwinkle.

It means that two progressives with similar voting records—one black, one Hispanic—will not be vying for the same vote.

Garcia could not be reached for comment.

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October 1, 2018 at 12:04PM

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