Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and Ald. Ray Lopez

One of the loudest conservative voices in the City Council, Alderperson Raymond Lopez (15th Ward), is challenging one of Illinois’ most influential progressives, Representative Jesus “Chuy” García (4th District), for his congressional seat. Despite the common presumption that the officials are allies given their Southwest Side origins and Mexican surnames, their politics and approach have shown that they don’t typically align.

Their political trajectories have different roots. Lopez emerged from the political establishment with more conservative voting tendencies via ex-Representative Bill Lipinski, while García came from an organizing background and into the limelight after the death of Rudy Lozano, the Little Village labor activist who was an associate of former Mayor Harold Washington.

Lopez and García both threw their hats into the 2023 mayoral election, but Lopez dropped out and endorsed businessman Willie Wilson; García finished fourth and endorsed Brandon Johnson in the subsequent run-off.

The 4th District was the first of two congressional districts in Illinois that became majority Latinx and which García has represented since 2019. It comprises multiple Southwest Side neighborhoods including Pilsen, Little Village, and Back of the Yards, as well as western suburbs like Cicero and Berwyn. Lopez’s aldermanic ward includes parts of Back of the Yards.

Their platforms agree on a few but significant items, such as support for a federal minimum wage of $15 or more, a path to permanent residency for DACA recipients, and a call for more federal aid to cities that have experienced recent influxes of migrants. 

But indicators in their voting records, public statements and endorsements show where they diverge.

Lopez made a Chicago Park District fieldhouse in his ward available as a temporary migrant shelter. But he penned a letter to Johnson in December seeking the resignation of City Hall staffers working on the migrant response and repeatedly voted against city funding for new arrivals. Notably, he and other alderpersons unsuccessfully tried to add a question to the ballot that would put Chicago’s sanctuary city status, which the city has had since 1985, to a public vote.

During a tense meeting called by Lopez and alderpersons Anthony Beale, Silvana Tabares, Marty Quinn, and Anthony Napolitano on November 2 on the topic of a welcoming city, Lopez found himself in the middle of a divided Council over the migrant debate.

Lopez tweeted that Ramirez-Rosa was “harassing and manhandling” Alderperson Emma Mitts, and would go on to suggest that it was a racist and sexist action that Johnson should punish by expulsion. Lopez told media sources that “he had to block” Ramirez-Rosa with his body, though a CBS2 video showed that Ramirez-Rosa touched her arm and moments later moved out of her way. Mitts would later acknowledge that she wasn’t manhandled. Ramirez-Rosa resigned as floor leader, but blamed Lopez for having mischaracterized and escalated the situation.

In early 2019, Lopez left the City Council’s Latino Caucus, apparently over ideological differences. During his run-off for reelection that year, the 15th Ward alderperson blamed caucus members for supporting his opponent. He’s been at odds with fellow Latinx alderpersons since. 

While García has a protégė in City Council, Michael Rodriguez, he has otherwise stopped short of endorsing candidates from the Latino Caucus. He endorsed FOP-backed Samie Martinez against Democratic Socialist and Latino Caucus member Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez in the 33rd Ward. But nationally, he supports and frequently votes with The Squad, who are among the most progressive and left-wing members of Congress. 

García penned a letter last summer to President Joe Biden along with nearly forty congressional colleagues to call on the administration to expand parole and work permits to both new migrants and long-term contributing immigrant workers.

Lopez has said the administration should “secure the border,” demanding that the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services process asylum requests within sixty days and immediately deport those deemed not eligible. His immigration talking points and continuous critique of Johnson and former mayor Lori Lightfoot have made him a repeated Chicago representative at Fox News national TV network.

García voted against a Republican-led border bill, the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, that had failed to include the input of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and included “the most severe restrictions to asylum and immigration in a generation, leaning into failed criminalization strategies and throwing immigrant communities under the bus in exchange for military assistance,” according to a statement the congressman released.

Joining other House members like Illinois representatives Delia Ramirez and Jonathan Jackson, García supported an October 16 resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war in occupied Palestine. When the Chicago City Council had special meetings to pass a ceasefire resolution that required Johnson’s tie breaking vote, Lopez compared the Hamas attack to Osama bin Laden and 9/11, calling the resolution “a diversion of the worst, worst kind.”

At the beginning of the year, García had the upper hand in political fundraising by more than $170,000.

Some notable donations and endorsements of both candidates: Lopez’ ward organization received $5,000 from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) this year and $11,000 last year, and $6,600 from Mark Fishman, allegedly Logan Square’s biggest landlord. During his 2023 run for mayor, García received $107,000 from Purple PAC, which Howard Labkon of General Iron contributed $11,600 to in 2019. García was recently endorsed by the Illinois AFL-CIO and Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Lopez is endorsed by the Tribune’s Editorial Board.

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Jacqueline Serrato is the Weekly’s editor-in-chief.

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  1. I was legitimately concerned when I read the stuff about Labkon giving money to Chuy. So I went to go look it up and it seems the donation to the Purple PAC was made in 2019.

    The contribution to Chuy by PurplePAC was made in support of his 2023 run for mayor. I think it’s a little bit of a stretch to say that Chuy is supported by Labkon solely off that. I expect better journalism.

    1. Thanks Timothy, we’ve updated the article to clarify the timeline of those donations.

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