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Can Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia win black voters?

He’s got it going on:

A head of steam in his late-inning entry into Chicago’s 2015 race for mayor; a chunk of change in the campaign kitty; a neighborhood-centric, progressive agenda; a catchy nickname and his trademark mustache.


Can Jesus “Chuy” Garcia get it going on with African-American voters?

Their support will be pivotal in the Feb. 24 election, and vital to pushing Mayor Rahm Emanuel into a runoff. The Cook County commissioner, a Mexican-American, cannot prevail as an ethnic candidate. There are not enough Latino voters to put him over the top.

African-Americans have tired of the mayor’s missteps on school closings and neighborhood violence. The word on the street: Emanuel had a tougher time getting voters to sign his petitions than the last time around.

I have watched Garcia since he served as a crucial ally of Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington. When it comes to building bridges in communities of color, he is the real deal.

He has built lasting alliances with African-American activists and toiled on the grass-roots causes they share: education, criminal justice and economic development.

He has stood up to the race baiters of all stripes. That’s not easy to do in Chicago. Some in his own community have even labeled Garcia a “N-lover.”

That’s a badge of honor.

Yet Chicago remains balkanized and segregated. The Democratic Party Machine has worked adeptly to divide and conquer. Blacks and Latinos struggle with distrust, and bicker over slivers of the pie.