Despite Garcia’s Strength, Latino Caucus Stands by Emanuel
by Claudia Morell, Manny Ramos and Mike Fourcher
While Jesus “Chuy” Garcia may have won a majority of Chicago’s Latino vote in last month’s mayoral general election, a majority of the City Council Latino Caucus is planning to campaign for Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the runoff election.
The Latino Caucus has seven members, not counting the Chairman, Ald. Rey Colon (35), who was unseated by Carlos Rosa last month. While the Council’s Black Caucus has discussed a formal mayoral endorsement, members of the Latino Caucus have yet to meet to discuss potential mayoral endorsements, says Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26).
“It was individual decisions by individual members,” Ald. Maldonado told Aldertrack yesterday. “I committed to [Mayor Emanuel] before Chuy decided to run, and the only thing you have of value is your word,” Ald. Maldonado said, adding that he will be campaigning for the Mayor to the, “extent that [the campaign] wants [him] to”.
“My politics are we don’t change who we endorse. I like to stay with who I’ve been working with,” Ald. George Cardenas (12) told Aldertrack when asked why he will be supporting Mayor Emanuel in the upcoming runoff against Garcia, who received 66.7% of the mayoral vote in the 12th Ward. “I think that once people hear the facts and the debate, people [...] won’t base their vote on an ethnic bent,” he said, noting that his support will include get out the vote efforts in the 12th and 15th Wards.
Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30) tells Aldertrack that he is “150% for the Mayor” and will also go door-to-door showing his support like, “everyone else should.”
“They’re not loyal,” Ald. Reboyras said of the aldermen who decided to stand with Garcia. “I’ve known Chuy for many years. He’s a wonderful person, but I would never turn my back on the incumbent,” Ald. Reboyras explained that he would extend the same courtesy to Garcia if he was the current mayor.
Another Emanuel supporter in the Caucus, Ald. Danny Solis (25), tells Aldertrack that he has been out with volunteers, “canvassing in the community and talking directly to neighbors about the work Mayor Emanuel has done across the city.” He says they are especially highlighting the Mayor’s role in education and work, “setting up the City of Chicago as a model for the rest of the country in dealing with immigrant families." Garcia got 55% of the vote in Ald. Solis’ Ward.
Ald. Ray Suarez (31), the only member of the Caucus to face a runoff in April, decided not to endorse either candidate, according to Jacob Kaplan, Executive Director of the Cook County Democratic Party and who is also managing the Suarez campaign. Suarez’ challenger, Milly Santiago, was endorsed by Garcia last night at a rally in Logan Square. Ald. Ricardo Munoz, who was appointed to succeed Garcia as Alderman of the 22nd Ward in 1993, is the only member of the caucus who has been an active supporter of the Garcia campaign.
Due to redistricting, the Caucus will pick up two more seats in the 15th and 36th Wards. There are runoffs in both wards, and not all of the candidates are choosing sides.
When asked if he plans to endorse a mayoral candidate, Raymond Lopez, the Democratic Committeeman for the 15th Ward, said, “I have been singularly focused on addressing the needs of 15th Ward residents. My residents always come first. I am willing to work with whomever is willing to make my residents their priority also. Mayor Emanuel has made his commitment to my residents clear.” Lopez is up against Rafael Yañez, who is closely aligned with the Garcia campaign. On election day, Garcia picked up 51% of the vote in the 15th Ward while Emanuel received 30%.
In the 36th Ward, runoff candidate Omar Aquino, told Aldertrack he has no plans to endorse. “People should make their own decisions when it comes to voting,” Aquino said, “If someone likes what the current administration is doing, vote Rahm, but if they feel Rahm hasn’t done enough, vote Chuy. Either way, I look forward to working with either of them.”
Aquino says he was disappointed that Garcia chose to endorse his opponent, Gilbert Villegas. “We tried reaching out to [Garcia] with numerous phone calls, but none of our calls were ever returned, ” Aquino said, adding that he believes Garcia’s positions are aligned with his own. Villegas participated in a endorsement rally for Garcia in Logan Square last night. In the 36th Ward general election, Garcia overtook Emanuel 45-39%.
Ald. Joe “Proco” Moreno (1) was not available for comment.