Jesús G.ChuyGarcía (born April 12, 1956) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Illinois‘s 4th district since 2019.[1] A member of the Democratic Party, he served on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Illinois Senate, as well as Chicago City Council before his election to Congress. A candidate for mayor of Chicago in the 2015 election,[2] García finished second in the February 24 general election and forced a head-to-head runoff against the incumbent, Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel won the April 7 runoff.

García was first elected to the Chicago City Council in 1986, and in 1992 became the first Mexican-American member of the Illinois Senate. In 2010, García won election to the 7th district of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, and after his election was appointed floor leader by Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle.[2][3] He won a seat in the U.S. House in the 2018 election, replacing retiring Representative Luis Gutiérrez.

Early life and education

García was born in Mexico in the state of Durango. His father was a farm laborer under the U.S. government’s World War II-era bracero program.

García moved to the US in 1965 with permanent resident status. The family settled in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, where García continues to reside. He attended St. Rita High School, graduating in 1974. García became a citizen of the United States in 1977.[4]

García worked at the Legal Assistance Foundation from 1977 to 1980 as he worked towards a B.A. in Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.[5] He then became Assistant Director of the Little Village Neighborhood Housing Service, where he worked until 1984.[5]

Early political career

Chicago City Council

In 1983, García was the campaign manager for labor organizer Rudy Lozano, who challenged longtime alderman Frank Stemberk of the 22nd Ward.[5] In the February 1983 election, Lozano came 17 votes short of forcing a runoff, which his supporters contended was due to voters with Spanish surnames being purged from the rolls, denying him the votes to force a runoff.[5] Lozano was murdered in June 1983, shot to death in his home. A reputed gang member was convicted of Lozano’s murder, but his supporters still contend that he was assassinated for his labor and political activities.[5] In 1984, García challenged Stemberk for his place as a Committeeman in the Cook County Democratic Party. Supporters of Lozano rallied around him and he received the endorsement of Mayor Harold Washington.[5] Stemberk was a supporter of alderman Edward Vrdolyak of the 10th Ward, who controlled the City Council and opposed Mayor Washington’s administration. This divide within city government was dubbed the “Council Wars” by the Chicago media. With Lozano supporters taking to the race with a “religious fervour” and Washington campaigning heavily on García’s behalf, he defeated Stemberk by 2,811 votes (40.62%) to 2,752 (39.77%), with activist and former labor union leader August Sallas taking 1,357 (19.61%).[5] Unlike other committeemen and women, García used his office to provide constituent services, which helped him maintain his high profile.[5] García was also appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Water by Washington, a post he held from 1984 to 1986.[5]

García in 2015

Meanwhile, Washington’s allies had sued the city in federal court, claiming that the ward map drawn up after the 1980 Census had unfairly dispersed black and Hispanic voters. At that time, whites were about 40% of the city’s population, blacks were also about 40%, and Hispanics were about 15%, but there were 33 white aldermen, only 16 blacks and just 1 Hispanic. In December 1985, as a result of a November 1985 ward remap, judge Charles Ronald Norgle Sr. of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ordered a special election for March 18, 1986 in seven wards, including the 22nd.[5] The special elections gave Washington the opportunity to wrest control of the city council from Vrdolyak.[5] Stemberk chose not to run for re-election and García declared his candidacy.[5] In the nonpartisan election, García faced supermarket owner and Stemberk ally Guadalupe Martinez and beauty supply store owner Fred Yanez.[5] Yanez emphasised his military service and Martinez called García “100 percent Communist” and criticised him for selling garbage cans, which Martinez gave away for free.[5] García won by 3,293 votes (54.58%) to Martinez’ 2,013 (33.37%) and Yanez’ 727 (12.05%),[6] carrying 26 of the 27 precincts.[5] García was also re-elected Committeeman with 53.98% of the vote, carrying 24 of the 27 precincts.[5] His election and the victory of two other Washington supporters meant that Vrdolyak’s supporters had a one-seat majority. Six weeks later, Washington ally Luis Gutiérrez won a runoff in the 26th Ward and the council was thus evenly split between Washington and Vrdolyak supporters. Washington had the ability to cast tie-breaking votes, Vrdolyak was stripped of his powers and the Council Wars ended.[5] García was re-elected with 3,998 votes (53.59%) in 1987[7] and with 2,707 votes (52.36%) in 1991.[8] On the council, he served on the Budget and Government Operations; Committees, Rules, Municipal Code Revision and Ethics; Economic Development; Education; Finance; License; Ports, Wharves, and Bridges; Streets and Alleys; Traffic Control and Safety committees and chaired the Aviation committee.[5]

Illinois Senate

García at a Bernie Sanders rally in Los Angeles, California, May 2016

Democratic State Senator Howard W. “Howie” Carroll of the 1st district of the Illinois Senate was redistricted to the 8th district, and in 1992 García ran for the Illinois Senate in the 1st district, winning the open-seat Democratic primary with 8,604 votes (52.06%) to Donald C. Smith’s 6,159 (37.26%) and Gilbert G. Jimenez’s 1,765 (10.68%).[9] The primary was tantamount to election in the heavily Democratic 1st district and in the general election, and García defeated Republican nominee Esequiel “Zeke” Iracheta by 21,314 votes (81.74%) to 4,762 (18.26%). García was the first Illinois State Senator of Mexican descent.[10] García resigned from the City Council and was succeeded by his protégé Ricardo Muñoz.

In the 1996 Democratic primary, he was challenged by Alderman Juan Soliz of the 25th Ward. Soliz, who had also been elected in the March 1986 special elections, had been supported by Vrdolyak, earning him the ire of Chicago Hispanics. When Soliz was elected, he called for unity among Hispanic aldermen, a plea which they ignored.[5] Soliz and García even celebrated their inaugurations by hiring separate Mariachi bands to play outside the council chambers.[5] After Soliz was replaced as Chairman of the Aviation Committee by García, he derided it as a “racist move,” though they were both Mexican-Americans.[5] García defeated Soliz by 6,839 votes (59.34%) to 4,686 (40.66%).[11] García was re-elected unopposed in the general election.[12] In office, García helped shepherd “immigrant-friendly” health care and education reforms through the legislature.[13] García was defeated in the 1998 Democratic primary election by Antonio Munoz, who was backed by the Hispanic Democratic Organization, Mayor Richard M. Daley‘s campaign group and political machine. Munoz defeated García by 6,924 votes (53.72%) to 5,964 (46.28%).[14] Alderman Ricardo Muñoz (no relation to Antonio Munoz), talking in 2010 about his mentor’s defeat, said: “Part of the rationale that I think Chuy lost in ’98 was that we got sloppy and they [Munoz and the HDO] got lucky. It rained all day, and we didn’t have raincoats for our guys until 11 o’clock. By that time, they were frozen stiff. So we lost the field game.”[15]

Political interregnum

After his defeat, García left office in January 1999, founded and became Executive Director of the Little Village Community Development Corporation. He helped grow what is now known as Enlace to twenty-seven full-time employees, 120 part-time employees, and an annual budget of $5 million.[16] In June 2005, he helped found the Latino Action Research Network, a PAC to help better represent the city’s Latino population.[17]

On Mother’s Day 2001, García and members of the group demanded the construction of a high school promised to the community, but unfunded. Fourteen parents and grandparents organized a hunger strike. While Paul Vallas, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, initially refused to meet with the hunger strikers, by the end of the first week, he visited their tent to negotiate terms.[18] The hunger strike lasted nineteen days and increased public pressure on the school district to fund the project. In August 2001, the newly appointed CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Arne Duncan, reallocated funds to begin construction on the school.[18] Community members continued to advocate for participation in designing the new school, and door-to-door parent surveys contributed to the curricular focus of each school on the campus.[19]

Cook County Board of Commissioners

In 2010, García ran for the Cook County Board of Commissioners, challenging 7th district member and HDO candidate Joseph Mario Moreno in the Democratic primary. García defeated him by 9,602 votes (54.74%) to 7,939 (45.26%).[20] In the general election, he faced Green Party nominee Paloma M. Andrade and defeated her by 24,612 votes (86.29%) to 3,912 (13.72%).[21] After the election, Toni Preckwinkle appointed García Floor Leader. García was re-elected unopposed to a second term on the Board of Commissioners in the 2014 elections.[22]

2015 Chicago mayoral election

García in 2017 at a protest against Donald Trump

García entered the mayoral race against incumbent mayor Rahm Emanuel after being recruited by Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, a leading progressive candidate who had fallen ill and was forced to call off her own campaign.[23] García won 34% of the vote in the February 24 primary, and Emanuel failed to win more than 50%, forcing a runoff election between the two on April 7.[24] The campaign received national attention and was considered by some a preview of the upcoming 2016 Democratic presidential primary. Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed García in what he called a “political revolution in Chicago.”[25] Emanuel won the runoff election with 55% of the vote.[26] García opposes the Ashland Bus Rapid Transit plan,[27] the Belmont flyover,[28] and red light cameras.[29]

After the mayoral election

García endorsed Bernie Sanders for President of the United States in the 2016 election and the 2020 election.[30][31] In the 2016 general election, García was a presidential elector from Illinois, casting a vote for Democratic nominees Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine in the electoral college.[32]

After incumbent and formal rival Rahm Emanuel announced that he would not seek a third term in 2019, many people speculated that a high-ranking Latino politician would enter the race. Gutiérrez and García were seen as potential candidates. After Gutiérrez declined to run, he expressed his intent to draft García into the race.[33][34] Sanders expressed his desire for García to “take a look for running for mayor.”[35] García ultimately did not run.

In the runoff of the 2019 mayoral election, García endorsed Lori Lightfoot, which delivered a further blow to the already faltering campaign of Lightfoot’s opponent, Toni Preckwinkle.[36] Preckwinkle, who had been García’s ally on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, had declined to endorse him for mayor in 2015.[37] Lightfoot ultimately defeated Preckwinkle in a landslide.

U.S. House of Representatives

García at a congressional campaign rally in South Lawndale, Chicago, February 2018



On November 27, 2017, just six days before the final day to file petitions to run in the 2018 election, Congressman Luis Gutiérrez pulled his petition, effectively choosing to retire at the conclusion of his 13th term.[38] The next day García signaled his intention to run for the open seat. During Gutiérrez’s press conference, he endorsed García as his successor.[39] The next day, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed García.[30] Politico described Gutiérrez’s sudden retirement as “totally abnormal” and his endorsement of García as a “coronation”, as the district is so heavily Democratic that the primary is the real contest and the general election is effectively a formality.[40]

García won the Democratic nomination in March 2018 with 60% of the primary vote.[41] He defeated financial adviser Mark Wayne Lorch in the November 6 general election, receiving over 86% of the vote.[42]


García was reelected in 2020, running unopposed in the primary, and winning the general election with 84.05% of the vote.


Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Electoral history

Illinois 1st State Senate District General Election, 1992[45]
Democratic Jesús G. Garcia 21,314 81.74
RepublicanEsequiel Zeke Iracheta4,76218.26
Total votes26,076 100.0
Illinois 1st State Senate District General Election, 1996[46]
Democratic Jesús G. Garcia (incumbent) 21,539 100.0
Total votes21,539 100.0
Illinois 1st State Senate District Democratic Primary, 1998[47]
Democratic Antonio “Tony” Munoz 6,924 53.72
DemocraticJesús G. Garcia (incumbent)5,96446.28
Total votes12,888 100.0
Cook County Board 7th District Commissioner Democratic Primary, 2010[48]
Democratic Jesús G. “Chuy” García 9,602 54.74
DemocraticJoseph Mario Moreno (incumbent)7,93945.26
Total votes17,541 100.0
Cook County Board 7th District Commissioner General Election, 2010[49]
Democratic Jesús G. “Chuy” García 24,612 86.29
GreenPaloma M. Andrade3,91213.72
Total votes28,524 100.0
Cook County Board 7th District Commissioner General Election, 2014[50]
Democratic Jesús G. “Chuy” García (incumbent) 25,320 100.0
Total votes25,320 100.0
Chicago Mayoral Election, 2015[51]
Nonpartisan Rahm Emanuel 218,217 45.63
Nonpartisan Jesús “Chuy” García 160,414 33.54
NonpartisanWillie Wilson50,96010.66
NonpartisanRobert W. “Bob” Fioretti35,3637.39
NonpartisanWilliam “Dock” Walls, III13,2502.77
Write-in votesWrite-In520.01
Total votes478,256 100.0
Chicago Mayoral Run-off Election, 2015[52]
Nonpartisan Rahm Emanuel 332,171 56.23
NonpartisanJesús “Chuy” García258,56243.77
Total votes590,733 100.0
Illinois 4th Congressional District Democratic Primary, 2018[53]
Democratic Jesús “Chuy” García 49,631 66.22
DemocraticSol A. Flores16,39821.88
DemocraticRichard Gonzalez8,92111.90
Total votes74,950 100.0
Illinois 4th Congressional District General Election, 2018[54]
Democratic Jesús “Chuy” García 143,895 86.59
RepublicanMark Wayne Lorch22,29413.41
Total votes166,189 100.0

Political positions


During a congressional hearing in July 2019, García asked former ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan about the Trump administration family separation policy “how [he] can possibly allow this to happen under [his] watch, [does he] not care? Is it because these children do not look like children that are around [him]?” Those comments were widely condemned by right-wing commentators; Homan called them “disgusting.”[55]

On December 10, 2019, García introduced the New Way Forward Act, an immigration reform bill.[56][57][better source needed]

Foreign policy

In July 2019, García voted against a House resolution condemning the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel. The resolution passed 398-17.[58]

In 2021, Garcia was one of eight Democrats to vote against the funding of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.[59]

Personal life

García with his wife Evelyn and daughter

García married Evelyn García in 1980.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ “Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia wins IL District 4 House seat, replacing Luis Gutierrez”. ABC News. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  2. ^ a b “Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia joins mayor’s race”. WGNTV. October 28, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  3. ^ “Will Chicago Progressives Unite Behind Chuy Garcia, Rahm’s 11th-Hour Challenger?”. In These Times. November 12, 2014. Retrieved October 29, 2014.
  4. ^ “Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia on Chicago, Immigration and His Roots”. NBC News. Retrieved 2020-02-20.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Fremon, David (1988). Chicago Politics, Ward by Ward. Indiana University Press. pp. 146–151.
  6. ^ “Chicago Ward 22 – Special Election 1986”. OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  7. ^ “Chicago Ward 22 1987”. OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  8. ^ “Aldermanic Results”. The Chicago Tribune. February 28, 1991. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  9. ^ “IL State Senate 01-D Primary 1992”. OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  10. ^ “IL State Senate 01 1992”. OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  11. ^ “IL State Senate 01-D Primary 1996”. OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  12. ^ “IL State Senate 01 1996”. OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  13. ^ Angela Caputo (February 19, 2010), “Jesus “Chuy” Garcia On Beating The Machine”, Progress Illinois, archived from the original on December 1, 2017, retrieved January 10, 2019
  14. ^ “IL State Senate 01-D Primary 1998”. OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  15. ^ Edward McClelland (April 9, 2010). “HDO: “They’re Still Out There. NBC Chicago. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  16. ^ “Enlace Chicago”. The Chicago Community Trust. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  17. ^ “Chuy García helps form new Latino PAC”. La Prensa. June 2005. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  18. ^ a b Friedman, Joanie. “Contested Space”. Critical Planning. UCLA. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  19. ^ “Little Village Lawndale High School Campus”. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  20. ^ “Cook County Commissioner 07 – D Primary 2010”. OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  21. ^ “Cook County Commissioner 07 2010”. OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  22. ^ David Orr. “Candidates – November 04, 2014 Gubernatorial General Election”. Cook County Clerk. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  23. ^ Chicago Tribune (25 February 2015). “Political dynamics change as Emanuel, Garcia move into runoff campaign”.
  24. ^ “Mayor Emanuel To Face Chuy Garcia In Runoff Election”.
  25. ^ Nichols, John. “Bernie Sanders Backs Chuy Garcia and a ‘Political Revolution’ in Chicago – The Nation” – via
  26. ^ Mark Peters (April 8, 2015). “Rahm Emanuel Re-Elected as Chicago Mayor in Runoff”. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  27. ^ “Garcia criticizes Ashland bus rapid transit plan; Claypool insists it’s ‘not a done deal. Chicago. 11 March 2015. Archived from the original on 13 March 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  28. ^ “Chuy Says NO to the Flyover!”. Coalition to Stop the Belmont Flyover.
  29. ^ Chuy’ Garcia says he’ll remove red light cameras if elected”. 6 March 2015.
  30. ^ a b “Bernie Sanders endorses ‘Chuy’ Garcia’s bid to succeed Rep. Gutierrez in Congress”. Chicago Tribune. November 30, 2017. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  31. ^ Sweet, Lynn (2020-02-20). “Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia endorses Bernie Sanders, will rally Latino voters in Nevada”. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2020-02-20.
  32. ^ “Who Will Sit On The Electoral College From Illinois | NPR Illinois”. Archived from the original on 2016-10-20. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  33. ^ Byrne, John. Chuy for Chicago’ political committee created to raise money for potential Garcia mayoral run”.
  34. ^ Pratt, John Byrne, Bill Ruthhart, Gregory. “Rep. Luis Gutierrez won’t run for Chicago mayor, calls on Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia to seek the office instead”.
  35. ^ “Sen. Bernie Sanders Says ‘Chuy’ Garcia Should ‘Take a Look’ at Chicago Mayoral Race”.
  36. ^ “U.S. Rep. Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia, attorney Jerry Joyce back Lori Lightfoot in Chicago mayor’s race”. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  37. ^ Canon, Ramsin (20 September 2018). “Which Toni Preckwinkle Is Running for Chicago Mayor?”. In These Times. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  38. ^ “Gutierrez to Announce He Won’t Seek Re-Election: Sources”.
  39. ^ Pathieu, Diane (28 November 2017). “Rep. Luis Gutierrez not running for re-election, endorses Chuy Garcia”.
  40. ^ Korecki, Natasha. “Luis Gutiérrez’s totally abnormal retirement ploy”. Politico. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  41. ^ “Illinois Primary Election Results”. The New York Times. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  42. ^ Mahr, Bill Ruthhart, Joe. “Jubilant ‘Chuy’ Garcia cruises to victory in race to succeed Gutierrez”. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  43. ^ “Jesús G. “Chuy” García Member Profile”. Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  44. ^ “Caucus Members”. Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
  45. ^ Illinois blue book, 1993-1994. Office of Illinois Secretary of State. 1994. p. 406. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  46. ^ Illinois blue book, 1997-1998. Office of Illinois Secretary of State. 1998. p. 411. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  47. ^ “Election Results 1998 GENERAL PRIMARY”. Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  48. ^ “Cook County Commissioner 07 – D Primary”. Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  49. ^ “Cook County Commissioner 07”. Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  50. ^ “Cook County Commissioner 07”. Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  53. ^ “Election Results 2018 GENERAL PRIMARY”. Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  54. ^ “Election Results 2018 GENERAL ELECTION”. Illinois State Board of Elections. Retrieved October 23, 2019.[permanent dead link]
  55. ^ “Ex-ICE Director Says He Considered ‘Beating’ Latino Congressman During Hearing”.
  56. ^ “H.R.5383 – 116th Congress (2019-2020): New Way Forward Act”. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  57. ^ Sources, World Combined (2020-02-10). “Reps introduce New Way Forward Act to fight criminalization of immigrants”. People’s World. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  58. ^ “H.Res.246 – 116th Congress (2019-2020): Opposing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel”. July 23, 2019. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  59. ^ Olson, Tyler. “9 House members vote against Israel Iron Dome funding as Tlaib accused of anti-Semitism”. Fox News. Retrieved September 25, 2021.

Further reading

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois’s 4th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by