Bernie Sanders in Chicago next week: Endorsing Jonathan Jackson, Delia Ramirez primary bids

Sanders hits Chicago on Thursday for a “Fighting Back Against Corporate Greed” rally at Teamsters Local 705 plus a Friday keynote to the Labor Notes Conference in Rosemont,

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Bernie Sanders on Thursday endorsed Delia Ramirez’s and Jonathan Jackson’s Democratic congressional primary bids.

Bernie Sanders on Thursday endorsed Delia Ramirez’s and Jonathan Jackson’s Democratic congressional primary bids.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent with ties to key backers of Democratic congressional candidates Delia Ramirez and Jonathan Jackson, is endorsing them, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Sanders will be in Chicago next week for a “Fighting Back Against Corporate Greed” rally Thursday at Teamsters Local 705, 1645 W. Jackson Blvd., and for a Friday keynote address to the Labor Notes Conference meeting at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, a large convention of grassroots union activists.

The senator will also make side trips to Racine, Wisconsin, and Burlington, Iowa, to support striking UAW workers. 

The Sanders team is still putting together his Chicago schedule, with the senator expected to appear with Ramirez and Jackson to leverage his endorsement.

Sanders, who twice ran for president as a Democrat, has worked closely with Jackson and Clem Balanoff, who is a senior adviser for Jackson’s primary bid in the crowded 1st Congressional District race, where Jackson is one of 17 Democrats in the primary.

Jackson was active in Sanders’ 2020 White House bid. Balanoff was the Illinois state director for the Sanders 2016 presidential campaign and is a former Illinois president of Sanders’ spinoff political group, Our Revolution Illinois.

Sanders said in a statement, “I was proud to have Jonathan Jackson as my state co-chair in 2020 and I’m proud to endorse Jonathan Jackson for Illinois’ 1st Congressional District today. He has long been a fighter for working people and he will be a champion for Medicare for All and a Green New Deal in the Congress.”

Sanders is also strongly allied with Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., who, when he endorsed Ramirez in her 3rd Congressional District primary bid, told the Sun-Times, he would be “exploring” landing a Sanders endorsement for her.

In a statement, Sanders said, “Ramirez has been a champion of working families in Illinois. As a state legislator, she has expanded Medicaid for all seniors regardless of legal status, has secured millions of dollars for affordable housing and defended reproductive rights by codifying Roe Vs Wade in Illinois. I am proud to endorse her campaign for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District.”

Garcia is close to Sanders because he served as a national surrogate for Sanders in his two presidential campaigns. Sanders stumped for Garcia when he ran for Chicago mayor and Congress.

Sanders is very popular with the Democratic Party’s most progressive activists.

The new 3rd District was designed by state Democratic mapmakers in the wake of the 2020 census to elect the second Hispanic member of Congress from Illinois.

Ramirez, an assistant majority leader in the Illinois House, has one main rival in the June 28 primary, Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th). 


Candidates for the House of Representatives are required under the federal Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to file financial disclosures detailing income sources, liabilities and assets. Except for salaries, other information is reported in broad ranges.

A Chicago Sun-Times review of financial disclosure statements filed with the House Clerk’s office found:

In 2021, Ramirez, a state representative, was paid a $69,464 salary from the State of Illinois. She also collected from the state $6,191 in per diems to cover Springfield expenses and $3,214 in mileage reimbursement.

She had a credit union loan of between $10,000 and $15,000.

Villegas reported rental income in 2021 of between $15,001 and $50,000. His alderperson salary was $116,000 and interest income was no more than $600.

Another Democratic candidate is Iymen Chehade, who is a central figure in the House Ethics Probe of Rep. Marie Newman, locked in a primary battle with another Democratic incumbent, Rep. Sean Casten. 

Days after a federal lawsuit Chehade filed against her was settled on June 29, 2021, he was put on Newman’s campaign payroll, which the Sun-Times has reported is for part time work as a foreign policy adviser.

Chehade’s disclosure states that in 2021 he was paid $54,000 by the Newman campaign and so far in 2022 his salary amounted to $34,000.

In 2021, Chehade earned $11,325 from his teaching work at Columbia College and $11,594 from the School of the Art Institute, plus $27,815 from Redfin.

At issue in the investigation is whether a 2018 contract Newman signed promising Chehade a job on her government staff if she won in 2020 violated any laws or House rules.

Another Democrat on the ballot, Juan Enrique Aguirre, did not file a disclosure. The only Republican running, Justin Burau of Winfield, filed a report but did not disclose any financial information.


A week ago the Sun-Times reported Jackson had not filed his disclosure. He said it was an “oversight.” As of Thursday, he still has not filed.


Both Ramirez and Villegas are on the primary ballot twice, for Congress AND to be a member of the state central committee of the Democratic Party of Illinois. 

They are not running against each other. Under party rules, there are two slots in each congressional district, one for a man and one for a woman.

Ramirez’s main rival is Iris Martinez, the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk who is seeking re-election to the state central committee. Martinez has endorsed Villegas — and last year backed Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., in her successful bid to chair the DPI.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker appears poised to try to oust Kelly when she is up for re-election this summer and is backing, in other districts, candidates running against a Kelly backer.

Villegas is running against state Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago.

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