It’s an unwritten underdog tale.
A 26-year-old high school counselor announced Thursday he will attempt to unseat powerful state Rep. Dan Burke, D-Chicago.
As a political novice, Aaron Ortiz faces an uphill battle against Burke, who’s held the seat since 1991 and is the brother of influential Chicago Ald. Ed Burke (14th).
Ortiz was one of three political hopefuls that Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia introduced Thursday as a slate of progressive Latino candidates who aim to take back the Southwest Side from machine politicians.
Ortiz wasted little time in outlining his attack strategy against Burke, saying he “comes from a political family that represents Donald Trump and has worked to give Trump tax breaks of over $14 million.”
He was referring the law firm of Dan Burke’s brother, Ed Burke, which appealed the property taxes on President Donald Trump’s downtown skyscraper; those efforts have saved Trump and his investors millions.
Some of those lost tax dollars, Ortiz said, would have helped fund schools in Chicago.
Ortiz, who grew up in Gage Park and works at Back of the Yards High School as a college counselor, appeared with Garcia and the other two members of that Latino slate at a news conference at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen.
“Politicians shouldn’t be making a profit from giving away school funding to the wealthy and connected,” said Ortiz, a member of the Chicago Teachers Union.
Dan Burke, reached Thursday afternoon, said Ortiz was grasping at straws by trying to associate him with Trump. The president’s anti-immigration policies are not popular in Burke’s district, which is 67 percent Latino.
“I guess Mr. Ortiz is reaching, trying to insist that I work for my brother. And that is not the case. I have nothing whatsoever to do with Donald Trump,” he said.
Burke said he was proud of being the rare exception of representing a district that doesn’t look like him.
“I think Mr. Ortiz is underestimating the sophistication of my constituency,” he said. “But it’s America. And everyone is entitled to do whatever they want to do, particularly when Chuy Garcia tells them to do it.”
Ortiz was joined Thursday by two other political neophytes Garcia has taken under his wing.
The aspiring trio, none of whom has previously held elected office, also includes Alma Anaya, 28, a Garcia staffer who’s running to replace Garcia on the county board, and Beatriz Frausto-Sandoval, 37, an immigration attorney who’s running to be a Cook County Circuit Court judge.
Garcia also formally announced his candidacy to replace U.S. Rep Luis Gutierrez, which surprised no one, considering that Gutierrez endorsed Garcia for the job after announcing his retirement in November.