Miguel del Valle won the endorsements of aldermen Rey Colon and Ricardo Munoz on Tuesday, but the event ended up raising questions about why the Latino community hasn’t been able to coalesce behind a single candidate.
Latinos are the smallest of Chicago’s three great ethnic groups, and their voting power is further diluted by the fact that many are not citizens. They make up about 15 percent of the electorate, and they're not monolithic. Del Valle, a North Side Puerto Rican, and Gery Chico, a Southwest Side Mexican-American, are competing to become the first Latino mayor.
Munoz argued that del Valle has transcended his Latino base by staking out an identity as the “progressive, independent candidate.” This week’s endorsement by the IVI-IPO put a stamp on the fact that del Valle is the hip candidate among Lakefront liberals.
“Chicago’s media is fascinated by the issue of race,” Munoz said. “I would be with Miguel whether he was black, white or Asian, because of his progressive views.”
Del Valle was the only candidate to endorse a package of referenda Munoz tried to place on the February ballot -- renegotiating the parking deal, hiring more cops, taxing financial trades -- and he was the first to support the Sweet Home Chicago ordinance, which sets aside 20 percent of TIF funds for affordable housing.
Munoz and del Valle have been working together since he announced in September: del Valle is raising money out of the 22nd Ward office. Colon’s 35th Ward is the del Valle coalition in miniature, populated by Latinos, hipsters and old white leftists who wore Harold Washington buttons.
Progress Illinois pointed out that Latino politicians are divided three ways in this election.
While there’s been a lot of discussion about the black community finding a single “consensus candidate” for mayor, Munoz and Colon’s backing of del Valle demonstrates no such dynamic exists among the city's Latino leaders. Just take a look at our mayoral endorsement list. United Neighborhood Organization head Juan Rangel is with Emanuel, Ald. Joe Moreno (1st Ward) and Illinois Commerce Commission Chair Manny Flores are backing Gery Chico, as is Rick Garcia, who formerly headed Equality Illinois. Munoz, of course, is one City Council's most prominent progressive members.
Del Valle -- who is also backed by state Sens. Iris Martinez and William Delgado, Rep. Cynthia Soto and County Commissioner Jesus Garcia -- has the support of Latinos hostile to the Hispanic Democratic Organization. So far, he has no endorsements from white or black politicians, but spokeswoman Joanna Klonsky promised “non-Latino” names on a list of state legislators expected to endorsed del Valle this Friday.
Klonsky also addressed a concern among voters who like del Valle’s liberal politics, but are worried he doesn’t have the money to compete with Rahm Emanuel in a run-off. Del Valle announced today that he's only raised $150,000.
“We’re raising money,” she said. “It’s not coming from Hollywood. It’s not coming from the traditional sources of political money. It’s coming from the grass roots.”
Last week, del Valle encouraged his supporters to send in $25 before the Dec. 31 filing deadline.
“It got a lot of regular people donating small amounts,” she said. “It got people engaged who we hadn’t asked before. This is what we did in 2008 with the president.”