In calls around yesterday to knowledgeable sources within the business community, insiders repeatedly cited Garcia’s reputation as a left-leaning progressive and said that they need to know a lot more about him, particularly his stance on curbing violent crime, before deciding to get behind him. But they also left the door open to doing so—especially as an alternative to a Lightfoot, whose limited popularity has waned among some business leaders.
“I think he could do extremely well. I think he could be a bridge,” said one top CEO who, like most others interviewed, asked not to be named. “He’s a reasonable, intelligent, reachable guy.”
“There’s a real serious policy side to him,” says another leader. “If he can come out as the competent alternative to Lightfoot,” then he might win business support.
Others are less effusive.
“He doesn’t play at all” with corporate officials, says a third source. “He’s a progressive.”
But much about Garcia is unknown. For instance, does he still favor hiring the 2,000 additional police he pitched in 2015, when he forced Rahm Emanuel to a runoff? Depending on how he fills that blank slate, Garcia could have some appeal as someone who can do something about the city’s crime woes, says one insider.
“Chuy’s contrast with Lightfoot could give him the capacity to make some inroads” with pro-business moderates, says Ald. Brian Hopkins, 2nd, who’s been pondering his own possible run. “He’ll need to go to the business community and give them some assurance he’d be willing to work with him.”
In Congress, a very partisan place nowadays, Garcia has received mixed vote ratings. For instance, the National Federation of Independent Business scored him at 17% in 2021-22, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave him a 47% rating in 2020.
Appealing to business types could cause difficulty in uniting Chicago progressives behind him—especially with newer progressive faces such as state Rep. Kam Buckner and County Commissioner Brandon Johnson already in the contest. Getting the Chicago Teachers Union endorsement likely would spur “a huge debate,” says one union source.
Garcia also will have to decide whether this is what he wants to do, with family health problems soaking up much of his time.
Don’t look for Garcia to decide until after the November general election, which will determine among other things whether Democrats retain control of the House. But if he does run, the guy who just played kingmaker in the race for chair of the Illinois Democratic Party, throwing crucial last-minute support to winner Lisa Hernandez, could draw some interesting backing.
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September 21, 2022 at 07:09AM