Chicago mayor race: Poll shows US Rep. Garcia in lead amid concerns over link to indicted FTX CEO

Craig Wall Image
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Poll shows Garcia with mayoral race lead amid concerns over FTX link
A Chicago mayor race 2023 poll shows Chuy Garcia in the lead as he remains under fire for donations linked to the FTX founder arrested in the Bahamas.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A newly released poll in the Chicago mayoral race could spell trouble for Mayor Lori Lightfoot, with Congressman Jesus "Chuy" Garcia appearing to be the front runner in the race.

But, the good news for Garcia comes as his campaign is under fire over political donations linked to an indicted crypto currency CEO.

Garcia's campaign firing back at critics, calling them desperate. The poll, meanwhile, gave some insight into how the mayor's race may be shaping up with just over two months until the election.

Garcia has benefited from high name recognition in the mayor's race, and early on the polling puts him as the front runner. The poll, paid for by a union that has endorsed him, shows Garcia leading the field with 25%, with Lightfoot in second at 18%, followed by Paul Vallas at 14% and Willie Wilson with 10%.

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Lightfoot's campaign noted the poll was conducted in mid-November and said it does not reflect the current state of the race. Paul Vallas was encouraged by his showing, especially since he has not been running TV ads yet.

"In every poll we've seen we're very close. We're very close to being in a runoff. It really seems to be a three person race," Vallas said.

But while Garcia's campaign is basking in the poll, he is also facing scrutiny over political donations linked to Sam Bankman-Fried, the now-indicted founder of FTX crypto.

Garcia on Tuesday afternoon took part in a congressional hearing on FTX while his rivals noted his congressional campaign benefited from nearly $200,000 in independent expenditures made on Garcia's behalf by a PAC funded by Bankman-Fried.

"When you've got folks putting that much money into a race that's unopposed you've got to ask questions about what are they really trying to do, what are they trying to influence," said mayoral candidate Kam Buckner.

Garcia's campaign spokeswoman issued a statement, saying, "These are misleading and desperate attacks from floundering campaigns. Congressman Garcia is and always has been a skeptic of cryptocurrencies and continues to advocate for stronger financial regulations on an industry he considers ripe for fraud."

Garcia did donate a $2,900 direct donation to charity, but the campaign said he had no knowledge or control of the other money spent on his behalf.

As for the poll, ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington weighed in.

"I think it's, for Lori Lightfoot, it's troubling because she is the incumbent and she has been spending money to get her message out in a way that her opponents have not. But, it's early," Washington said.

It's also worth noting that the race will heat up after the holidays, with other candidates expected to launch TV ads. Polling will be influenced by attack ads against front runners. A lot can change in two months.