The other big winner in the Dems’ leadership tussle: Today’s Juice

chuy garcia bloomberg

One way or another, Gov. J.B. Pritzker will be taking a victory lap after finally taking control of the Illinois Democratic Party over the weekend, ousting U.S. Robin Kelly as state party chair in favor of an ally of his, state Rep. Lisa Hernandez.

The victory lap even will be deserved—assuming, that is, the fight over the spot doesn’t poison Chicago’s bid to land the 2024 Democratic National Convention, as some suspect.

MORE: Kelly concedes defeat in state party race after Pritzker power play

But there’s another big winner worth mentioning. That’s U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who for the third time in as many months proved he’s a kingmaker with fast-growing influence.

Garcia delivered for Hernandez the votes of himself and other Latinos who serve on the Democratic Central Committee. With those votes, Kelly would have won, party insiders report. Without them, she was toast, announcing she was withdrawing from the contest within two hours of when Garcia, et al., announced their decision to back Hernandez.

Just a month ago, Garcia had an even bigger victory. In a battle between the Latino community’s old guard and progressive factions, Garcia & Co. kicked butt, routing a candidate backed by longtime power broker Victor Reyes and ex-U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez to deliver the new 3rd Congressional District to the woman he endorsed, progressive state Rep. Delia Ramirez.

Needless to say, that Latino CD was created after Garcia and allies pulled lots of strings in Springfield. Just like they did at City Hall, when progressive Latino aldermen allied with him got great new wards in city remap while others, like Ald. Gil Villegas, got wards that resemble what a wall would resemble if you threw a plate of spaghetti at it.

“Chuy’s adroitly combined power in the Latino and progressive communities to his advantage better than any other politician in Illinois,” says one top party insider who needs to get along with everyone and asked not to be named.

What’s really remarkable here is that Garcia, who failed to respond to requests for comment, has done all of this without much notice while simultaneously getting along with the Democratic Party’s old guard. Like ex-Speaker Mike Madigan, who seemed to help each other for years before Madigan just got too politically toxic.

“He certainly has played his cards well,” says one of the old guard folks.

In a text from Mexico, where he is on vacation, Garcia said "it took 35 years to build a youthful, progressive and inclusive bench. Thankfully, Latinos are finally hitting their stride."

The question now: Will Garcia listen to potential blandishments from the Chicago Teachers Union and others in his progressive coalition and run for mayor against Lori Lightfoot? (He seems to have left the door open just a crack.) Or will they find someone else?

Stay tuned.


One P.S. to the above: While people in the Chicago Federation of Labor did help Kelly, the CFL itself stayed neutral in the race, contrary to what I reported earlier. Meanwhile, speaking of Lightfoot, her Chicago Park District is saying just a little bit more about that proposed downtown NASCAR race—a very little bit.

MORE: NASCAR race will tie up Grant Park—all of it—for two weeks

In answer to a question, the district says it has no idea how much tax revenue its fee of $2 a ticket and 15% tax on merchandise sales will bring in—above and beyond the $500,000 NASCAR will pay up front, as previously reported, that is. “The NASCAR Cup Series Street Race is new to the city and therefore the Park District has no historical basis to estimate,” it replied.

And, will bleachers for ticket holders to watch the race be constructed? “A ticketed entry system will be imposed for select activities taking part in Grant Park.”

Ain’t that helpful.

EDITORIAL: In this NASCAR race, transparency loses

At least three aldermen now say they’ll introduce legislation to remove Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s ability to enter into such deals with City Council approval. But the council isn’t due to meet again until September, when their protests could be moot.

On the D.C. front: In Washington, look to see if the Senate approves that big new energy deal and legislation to protect same-sex marriage before it heads on is summer break.

MORE: How Congress’ climate deal would help clean energy in Illinois

And Illinois Republicans will have a new spokesman. Joe Hacker has stepped down to pursue other, unspecified opportunities.

via Chicago’s Complete Business News Resource | Crain’s Chicago Business

August 1, 2022 at 06:41AM

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