Jesus ‘Chuy' Garcia Won't Run for Chicago Mayor

Cook County Commissioner Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia has decided not to run for Chicago mayor, he announced Monday.

His decision came roughly two weeks after outgoing Rep. Luis Gutierrez also decided against a run, beginning a movement to "draft" Garcia that garnered the backing of 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders

Garcia forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel into an historic runoff election in 2015 before ultimately losing that race. Garcia then ran for Illinois 4th Congressional District in the March primary, winning the Democratic nomination to replace Gutierrez - all but guaranteed to win the solidly blue district in the November general election.

In announcing his decision to not run on Sept. 12, Gutierrez called on Garcia to throw his hat in the ring instead, calling him "a man for these times" who "will give to Chicago what it desperately needs."

That movement to push Garcia into the race saw supporters circulating nominating petitions and the creation of a "Chuy for Chicago" campaign committee with the Illinois State Board of Elections - all while Garcia himself remained noncommittal.

At the time of Gutierrez's announcement, Garcia said simply that he would "continue to dialogue with Chicagoans from across our great city to talk about solutions that will both unify us and improve everyone's quality of life."

Garcia's decision to stay out of the race is likely in part motivated by - and a boon for - the campaign of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Preckwinkle announced her run for mayor on Sept. 20, joining an already-crowded field just over two weeks after Emanuel revealed that he would not seek a third term.

Service Employee International Union Local 1, which backed Garcia in the 2015 mayoral race, announced its endorsement of Preckwinkle the same day she kicked off her campaign - leaving little room for Garcia to build the kind of financial support and field operation necessary for the race.

His exit will likely give Preckwinkle, who also chairs the Cook County Democratic Party, a boost as she seeks to build a progressive coalition in support of her effort to become the first black female mayor of Chicago.

But it will also undoubtedly raise questions in Latino political circles. Nearly two dozen key leaders met behind closed doors for three hours in the wake of Emanuel's bombshell announcement, deciding to poll voters on three potential candidates: Garcia, Gutierrez - now both out of the race - and Ald. Ricardo Munoz.

While she was not part of that coalition, Garcia's decision does also leave an opening for Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza. While Mendoza has officially said she's focused on her statewide campaign, she has reportedly been weighing a mayoral run, though she is not expected to make a decision until after the November election. 

Garcia, Gutierrez, Munoz and Mendoza were all among the dozens of names circulated in the wake of Emanuel's announcement, with a total of 16 officially in the race as of Monday.

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