Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia on Friday issued a glowing review of Mike Madigan as chair of the state Democratic Party — saying he is the “clear choice” and “will turn a statewide majority into progressive action.”
The progressive stamp of approval comes just days before the 36 state central committeemen and committeewomen prepare to vote for the party chair on Monday in Springfield.
And it’s not the first time the two have had each other’s backs. Garcia in 2016 endorsed Madigan over a heavily-funded opponent. Garcia, who was named a Bernie Sanders national delegate, appeared in mailers endorsing Madigan.
Garcia, who forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel into a runoff in 2015, and was hand-picked to replace U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, won’t be in town for the Springfield meeting, according to a spokeswoman.
But Madigan spokesman Steve Brown this week said attendance is expected to be high. And those who can’t attend can vote by proxy.
“As a progressive Democrat, it is my intention to support a state party chair who will work with me to advance our most fundamental goals,” Garcia said in a statement released on Friday. “… I will support a chair, who, above all, knows that our goal as a Democratic Party and as a progressive movement must be to build a broad coalition that can deliver this change. Michael Madigan is the clear choice.”
Garcia said Madigan “will turn a statewide majority into progressive action” — and is helping to put a $15 minimum wage on the governor’s desk, fighting to make the wealthy “pay their fair share” and is working to help support a women’s right to choose, among other efforts.
Garcia said Madigan “puts first the interests of the people of Illinois and the progressive principles of the Democratic party.”
Garcia, too, dubbed Gov. Bruce Rauner and President Donald Trump “extremists,” who “would veto pens and work to drag our communities backward.”
There are no opponents throwing their names in the ring for party chair, although newly elected progressive committeeman Peter Janko, has said Democrats in his McHenry-area district were “almost universal” in their desire to oust Madigan.
If there was any opposition from progressive politicians to Garcia’s decision to endorse Madigan, it was hard to find on Friday. But some social media users voiced their opinions: “Of course, he [Garcia] knows the deal.” Another tweeted: “Chuy falls in line.”
“What the f— is Chuy smoking on 4-20?!?” tweeted one self-described “enlightened free thinker.”
Before the primary, numerous Democrats called for an independent investigation of the speaker over revelations of allegedly ignored harassment complaints, with some calling for Madigan to step down from his post as party chair.
Madigan’s organization is facing a federal lawsuit from a former strategist who claims he stonewalled her complaints about barrages of text messages from a top Madigan aide whose brother is Ald. Marty Quinn (13th), also a top Madigan lieutenant. Madigan also forced out a top lobbyist accused of “inappropriate behavior.”
Madigan has led the party since 1998, and if elected to a sixth term, he would become the longest-tenured Democratic party chairman in state history.