U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chewy” Garcia endorsed Brandon Johnson for mayor of Chicago on Friday, giving the Cook County commissioner a potential boost in the April 4 election.
The endorsement follows a disappointing mayoral campaign for Garcia, who entered the race as the favorite but finished fourth in the first round of voting on February 28.
As a candidate, Garcia often talked about repeating the multiracial coalition of 1983 that brought Harold Washington to the mayor’s office. Instead, Johnson beat out Mayor Lori Lightfoot to face former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Wallace in a runoff.
Now, the two former rivals are teaming up again to bolster the progressive movement and try to block Wallace from taking the mayor’s top job.
Garcia talked about the history of Chicago’s political coalitions and the importance of bringing black and brown residents together in the mayoral race.
“The choice is obvious. Chicago is a city of strong public schools, thriving neighborhoods and progressive values,” Garcia said. “It is through this lens that I see Brandon Johnson as the right choice. and why I support him for mayor.”
Johnson returned the compliment by praising Garcia for his long history in the progressive movement.
“Whenever this city needed a leader and a champion, Chuy Garcia was there,” he said.
How much support Garcia has for Johnson remains to be seen. In addition to losing his own race on election night, Garcia faced a setback in the 25th District, where Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez defeated a challenger backed by the congressman.
Despite the defeats, Garcia remains one of the city’s best-known politicians, and his endorsement could help Johnson boost his support among Southwest Hispanics and white liberals living on the lakefront.
The Chicago District Council of Labor, meanwhile, supported Vallas. Labor is a major union and has often generously supported its candidates financially. The endorsement underscores a long-standing rift between the public and labor unions that support Johnson and Wallace, respectively.