On the day he announced he’s running for Congress, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia said his campaign “builds on the legacy of Harold Washington.” Nothing could be more true.

Garcia, just a young man back then, was an early supporter of the late mayor. He has been a soldier — and now  a leader — of the progressive wing of the local Democratic Party ever since.

Many Chicagoans take the progressive wing of the party as a given, but not so long ago it didn’t exist. Before Washington was elected mayor, the Democratic Party was machine-like and closed, controlled by boss mayors and patronage-doling ward bosses, quick to punish dissent and slow to cut minorities in on the power.

Now the whole Democratic Party in Chicago has discovered the virtues of progressive politics. Certainly, Mayor Richard M. Daley was far more open and inclusive than his father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, ever was. And Mayor Rahm Emanuel, though his critics would argue otherwise, tries to work that side of the street.

In Garcia, Chicago Democrats have the real deal — a progressive to the core. That’s good for Chicago, and good for the nation. We endorse Garcia for Congress.

Garcia, who would be the first Mexican immigrant elected to Congress from Illinois, would be sure to pick up where the incumbent, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, has left off in fighting for the rights and protections of immigrants. That’s priority No. 1 for any congressman in a district that, thanks to outrageous gerrymandering, is more than 70 percent Hispanic.

But Garcia has broad experience in public life, having been an alderman, state senator and Cook County commissioner. He gave Emanuel a run for his money in the 2015 mayoral election. We predict Garcia would be a well-rounded liberal congressman, more of a Bernie Sanders than a Gutierrez, standing up for a host of issues he has cared about for his whole career, including better public schools, a fairer tax system and the rights of workers.

Our main criticism of Garcia, as we said when he ran for mayor, is that he has a tendency to stand for nice things, such as lower property taxes, without producing workable plans. To be a real voice in Congress, rather than just another reliable Democratic vote, he will have to do a better job of mastering the details of public policy.

Opposing Garcia for this open seat, as Gutierrez steps down, are non-profit business director Sol A. Flores and Chicago Police Sgt. Richard Gonzalez.

If Garcia wins the primary on March 20, he’s a shoo-in to win against any Republican in November. That, sadly, is the entire point of gerrymandering.


When the Democrats running in the 4th Congressional District primary visited the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board on January 10, we asked each to introduce themselves to voters. Here was Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s response:

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com