In 100 years from now, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia will be a folk hero legend of Chicago’s tumultuous political revolution. Elementary school children will hear the stories of victory for the people on Chicago’s Southwest side. He has joined the ranks of the Chavistas-Ceaser and Hugo. On March 20, 2018, he beat Chicago Machine politicians to possibly become the first Mexican-American to represent Chicago in Congress. He didn’t just win his own future seat he supported and included the young and female political leaders for his slate. The diversity of the slate extends beyond demographics, it was those that supported him that make the story interesting. Democratic machine politicians broke ranks to create a revolutionary tide of victory.
When Chuy ran and lost for mayor in 2015 a tidal wave of support from unions and progressives paved the way for a 2019 win. Since that fateful loss, progressives have influenced many of the political organizations across Chicago. The Southwest Side Progressive’s intention was changing the political landscape from the corrupt clench of the Hispanic Democratic Organization. A political machine descendant that has been a nightmare of corruption, greed and Latino disempowerment for over 10 years. The Progressive’s attracted Democratic Latinos and the state’s top brass for the fight.
Chuy’s progressive slate included Alma Anya who would run against HDO State Rep. Marty Sandoval’s daughter, Angie Sandoval. The 12th Ward Alderman George A. Cardenas joined Chuy’s support for Alma Anaya and the entire slate as a call to create a future of empowerment. He also supported Fritz Kaegi to replace Cook County Tax Assessor Joe Berrios. Berrios had been overvaluing the 12th Ward at 20-45%, a painful financial burden to the majority Latino ward. For the Alderman, it was a call to do the right thing for the right candidates to advance his Wards future.
Alderman Cardenas spent tens of thousands on political signs, phone banking, donations and canvassing troops. As a Chuy supporter, a slew of harassment would follow from Democratic machine politicians. Election day was filled with the typical HDO (the dying Hispanic Democratic Organization) and machine political harassment. Fake signs popped up across Alma Anya’s embattled Cook County Commissioner for 7th District area saying Chuy/Angeles-the name of the opposition that Chuy did not support. One of the 12th Ward workers was battered by an HDO hitman, prompting a police report. The 12th Ward polling places turned into a typical Chicago political gangster movie-betraying the freedom of voters. In the end, the machine hitmen did not claim victory again, Alma Anaya, Chuy’s hand-picked and trained candidate, took nearly 60% of the vote to beat out the corrupt HDO. The collaboration didn’t stop there.
Alderman across the Southwest Side joined Chuy’s Progressives punching a positive force at the voting polls. 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis supported Chuy’s slate financially and physically creating the highest victory for Alma Anaya with nearly a 70% win. The 22nd Ward Alderman jumped in and helped Chuy’s slate winning a slate victory. The true test of the political waters in Chicago is the top brass supporters. Even though the Chicago machine may be changing, everyone still gages opponents support with names like Madigan and Daley. The 11th Ward carried Chuy’s candidates to victory as well, helping Alma Anaya to her victory. To an old-time political analyst, this is a big change. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley helped to create HDO and their rise. Even through scandals, the Daley machine had tunnel vision support of the organization. A sure sign that change is blowing in the wind. Last but not least, Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan stymied political opposition as he supported Chuy’s candidates helping his entire slate win in his district Wards. If Mike wants it, Mike gets it. All Rauner slander aside, Mike Madigan has one of the very strongest organizations that America has ever seen. And he proves it every time. If Madigan is supporting change that veers from the machine he has helped to create and maintain, expect a very different political future in Chicago.
Habits are hard to break not just for smokers and drinkers but the real people of Chicago have new needs and intentions when they vote. They are gaining the courage to change how they vote and why they are voting. Political ears have heard and are listening. That’s why Jesus “Chuy” Garcia will grace the pages of future history books. The Chuyistas isn’t just a movement, it’s a new way of life in the Big Chi.