Poll: Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia in strong starting position if he runs for Chicago mayor

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U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia speaks during a news conference at City Hall, Wednesday morning, Sept. 7, 2022. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times, Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON – Nuestro PAC – a national political action committee focusing on Latino voters – is urging Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., to jump into the Chicago mayoral race, commissioning a poll showing Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Garcia tied as the standouts in a big field and Lightfoot saddled with a high disapproval rating.

I talked to Garcia on Sunday and asked him about the risk-free position he holds: Garcia, on the November ballot seeking a third term, faces weak GOP opposition in a safe Democratic district. Garcia can run for mayor in 2023 without giving up his seat in Congress. “I am very much aware of that,” Garcia said.

Garcia will also know before deciding whether Democrats lose the House in the mid-terms.

Earlier this month, Garcia, calling Lightfoot vulnerable, told reporters the odds of his running in the 2023 City Hall contest were 50-50. Garcia on Sunday said he is aiming to decide by mid-October, with his odds changing day-by-day.

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The petition filing deadline is Nov. 28. Chicago’s non-partisan mayoral election is Feb. 28, with a runoff between the top two on April 4 if no one wins a majority plus one vote. Garcia lost to Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the 2015 mayoral runoff.

THE POLL

The polling firm Bendixen & Amandi talked to 400 likely voters on cell or land telephones between Sept. 1 and 5. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9%. I’m writing about this poll because I was given the entire survey, not just a summary or a press release.

Chuck Rocha, the Nuestro PAC senior adviser encouraging a Garcia mayoral bid, said “running one of the nations largest cities would be a great indicator of the power of the Latino vote.”

Top issue: At 44%, crime – that is, gun violence and the murder rate – is the top concern. Every other issue was under 7%.

On track? 55% said the city is headed in the wrong direction; 33% right track; 12% don’t know or were undecided.

Lightfoot approval: 17% strongly approved Lightfoot’s handling of her job as mayor; 27% somewhat approve; 26% somewhat disapprove; 28% strongly disapprove.

The Feb. 28 horse race: Counting respondents who lean toward a contender, here are the results to the question if the election were “today,” whom would you vote for.

Please note this is a fluid barometer, a snapshot. Still, it shows the steep uphill battle ahead for most contemplating the race. Keep in mind 67% of those surveyed said they could “still potentially change” their choice.

Lightfoot: 25%

Garcia: 24%

Business person Willie Wilson: 13%

Ex- Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas: 9%

Ex-Gov. Pat Quinn: 6%

Hovering between 0% and 4% – State Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago; marketing executive and community activist Ja’Mal Green; Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson; Ald. Sophia King (4th); Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th); Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th).

Favorability: Garcia, scores 56% as very or somewhat favorable to 49 % for Wilson; 47% for Lightfoot; 46% for Quinn; 38% for Vallas. Everyone else is under 26%.

Unfavorability: Looking at the somewhat to very unfavorable front where a smaller number is better – Lightfoot, 47%; Wilson, 29%; Quinn, 28%; Garcia, 20%; Vallas, 17%.

Name ID: In this one, a high number shows a lack of name ID. Adding to the challenge of not being known: Only Lightfoot, Garcia and Wilson – as of Sunday – have demonstrated an ability to fund citywide campaigns. Vallas has hired nationally known campaign consultants, suggesting he has lined up some money.

Only 6% did not recognize Lightfoot’s name or know enough to have an opinion; in contrast to 22% for Wilson; 24% for Garcia; 26% for Quinn; 45% for Vallas; 59% for Green; 60% for Lopez; 64% for Sawyer and King; 77%, for Buckner; and 78% for Johnson.

By race: Top three candidates by respondents who identified as white: Garcia, 23%; Lightfoot, 22%; Vallas, 16%.

Top three, by respondents who said they were Black: Lightfoot, 33%; Wilson, 19%; Garcia, 14%.

Top two, by respondents who said they were Hispanic: Garcia, 48%; Lightfoot 23%. All others below 5%.

Top three, by respondents who said they identify as Asian: Lightfoot, 33%; Quinn and Wilson, 17%. Everyone else at 0%.

More poll demographics: Respondents were 52% female; 48% male. They self-identified as 48% white; 30% Black; 19% Hispanic/Latino; 2% Asian. Some 37% had, before taxes, annual household incomes of less than $50,000; 31% between $50,000 and $100,000; and 25% more than $100,000. Some 88% of the respondents said they are “very likely” to vote on Feb. 28.

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September 18, 2022 at 02:42PM

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