Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn endorses Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia for mayor

Quinn chooses Garcia over Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whom he supported in 2019, and Paul Vallas, whom Quinn chose as his running mate in 2014.

SHARE Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn endorses Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia for mayor
Former Illinois governor Pat Quinn speaks during a press conference outside the City Clerk’s office at City Hall in July 2022.

Pat Quinn said the integrity of Rep. Jesus Garcia is “unquestionably positive.”

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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Former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday endorsed U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the crowded race for mayor of Chicago, passing on incumbent Lori Lightfoot, whom he supported four years ago, and Paul Vallas, whom he chose in 2014 as his running mate for lieutenant governor.

Lightfoot has been running ads trying to link Garcia to two indicted political powerhouses: former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and former crypto-currency kingpin Sam Bankman-Fried.

Quinn was undaunted by those attacks.

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“Congressman Garcia — from the time I met him in the 1980s to the present — is a man of integrity and character. There are people in politics you may not particularly like. But they have a position and you have to deal with them,” Quinn said.

As governor, “I had to deal almost daily with Speaker Madigan. I strongly disagreed with him on many issues. But we had to pass a budget through the state Legislature to help the people. So I really feel that the integrity of Congressman Chuy Garcia is unquestionably positive. He’s a man of honesty. Everything I’ve dealt with him — he’s been honest and accountable to the voters.”

Garcia predicted the endorsement from a lifelong politician who “embodies principled leadership” will give his campaign a “wonderful boost.”

“In a heated race with three people vying for the top spot, this could make a difference,” Garcia said. “People respect Pat Quinn. They know what he stands for. It’s a good brand to be associated with.”

Quinn has enjoyed his greatest successes as a political gadfly. He led petition drives reducing the size of the Illinois House and creating the Citizens Utility Board.

Those populist successes catapulted Quinn into a political career that included stints as state treasurer, commissioner of the Cook County Board of Review and lieutenant governor. He became the “accidental governor” by taking office after Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached. Quinn won a four-year term of his own in 2010, but was denied a second term in 2014 by Republican Bruce Rauner.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, right, introduces Paul Vallas, left, as his choice for lieutenant governor on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (at podium) introduces Paul Vallas as his choice for lieutenant governor at a news conference in Chicago in 2013.

Associated Press

In that election, Quinn chose Vallas as his running mate.

Asked Thursday about not endorsing Vallas for mayor, Quinn called Garcia a better choice.

“He’s a progressive, and I am, too,” Quinn said. “He is a committed reformer over 40 years.”

Quinn specifically cited Garcia’s “unique abilities to unite people and advocate for everyday people in the neighborhoods, particularly when it comes to property tax relief.”

“Chicago cannot have a strong middle class unless we fundamentally overhaul our property tax system. If you’re gonna have a strong city, you must reform a property tax system that is out of control. Chuy has the best ability to do something about that, has a commitment to hold the line on property taxes,” said Quinn, 73, who circulated his own nominating petitions for mayor before deciding not to run.

Quinn backed Lightfoot over County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in the 2019 mayoral runoff. He spoke at a Lightfoot campaign rally, donated to her campaign and put a Lightfoot sign outside his Galewood home.

But Lightfoot reneged on her campaign promise to fight for and abide by a two-term limit for Chicago’s mayor and proposed selling corporate naming rights to Soldier Field to bankroll a $2 billion renovation.

Now, Quinn calls Lightfoot a disappointment, saying she broke the “solemn promise” on mayoral term limits and persuaded the City Council to approve an automatic escalator locking in annual property tax increases to match the rate of inflation.

“That’s a bad ordinance. To be accountable to taxpayers, the mayor and City Council should address that issue every year. In fact, they should reduce the property tax levy wherever possible,” Quinn said. “If we’re gonna help families and businesses be able to afford to live in Chicago, that ordinance needs to be repealed.”

Quinn took issue with Lightfoot for seeking corporate naming rights for Soldier Field, saying there’s no tasteful way to attach a corporate name to a war memorial.

“It’s a desecration,” he said.

With inflation rising, Lightfoot initially cut the 2023 property tax increase in half before canceling the increase altogether. But she made it a point to say the break is for one year only, and the automatic increases remain essential to chip away at the city’s $33 billion pension crisis.

Candidates routinely line up as many endorsements as possible from present and former elected officials, but the value of endorsements has been questionable. Popularity can seldom be transferred to someone else.

Quinn was asked Thursday what his endorsement means now.

“I’ve run for treasurer and lieutenant governor, then governor,” he said. “Every time I’ve run, I’ve done well. Very well in the city of Chicago with everybody, with all different groups.”

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