Illinois' 3rd Congressional District: Delia Ramirez, Gil Villegas Among 5 Competing to Represent State's New Hispanic District

(Read this article in Spanish/Lee el artículo en español aquí)

The 3rd District is unique among all the races in Illinois this primary election because it’s a brand-new district drawn specifically to have a Hispanic plurality, with no incumbent, but garnering plenty of attention.

In the previous congressional map from 2011 to 2021, Illinois had just one congressional district that was majority Hispanic, the 4th District currently represented by Jesús "Chuy" García. But the 2020 Census showed the Hispanic population across Illinois grew by more than 15% over the past decade, prompting advocates to push for a new district with a stronger chance of more Latino representation in Congress.

To accomplish this, state lawmakers tasked with redistricting shifted the boundaries of several Chicago-area districts to create the 3rd, which includes parts of Chicago’s Northwest Side and stretches west to portions of Elk Grove Village, Addison, Glendale Heights, West Chicago and the surrounding areas. The demographic makeup of the new district is 47.35% Hispanic, 39.08% white, 6.12% Asian and 4.61% Black.

There are four candidates running in the Democratic primary, including two who currently hold elected office, with significant name ID and financial advantage over the others. The candidates are, in order of ballot appearance:

State Rep. Delia Ramirez: Ramirez has served as state representative for Illinois’ 4th District since 2018 and is now assistant majority leader as well as a member of the House Progressive Caucus. Prior to her election, she worked in the non-profit space, as the former founding executive director of the Center for Changing Lives, among other roles. She’s painted herself as the more left-wing, grassroots candidate in the race and has received the endorsement of several progressive politicians like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and all the Democratic Socialists on Chicago’s City Council.

Ald. Gilbert “Gil” Villegas: Villegas is alderman for Chicago’s 36th Ward, first elected in 2015. He chairs the City Council’s Latino Caucus. He is a Marine veteran who, prior to running for office, was the chief of staff for the Illinois Capital Development Board. He has a cash advantage in the race, having raised roughly $782,000 by the end of the first quarter of this year, compared to Ramirez’s $419,000.

Juan Enrique Aguirre: Aguirre is a nurse who previously worked in the cannabis industry and for a medical center, coordinating COVID-19 vaccinations.

Iymen Chehade: Chehade is a professor at Columbia College Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago whose focus is the Middle East, specifically the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. He is also the director of foreign policy and research for Rep. Marie Newman’s campaign, though he’s at the center of an ethics investigation into her. A congressional watchdog earlier this year released a report alleging Newman promised him employment in her government office if she won in 2020, in order to gain his political support. The two signed a contract, according to the report, which she did not uphold after she won. He sued and the two settled. The investigation remains ongoing.

Whoever wins will face the lone Republican candidate Justin Burau in the fall, though the district’s partisan make-up points toward a Democratic victory in November.

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