4th District Rep. Jesús 'Chuy' García defeats primary challenge by Ald. Ray Lopez, AP projects

García files complaint about Lopez's gifts to poll workers

Leah Hope Image
Wednesday, March 20, 2024
US Rep. Jesús 'Chuy' García projected to defeat Ald. Raymond Lopez: AP
US Rep. Jesús 'Chuy' García projected to defeat Ald. Raymond Lopez: AP

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Three-term U.S. Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García has won the Democratic primary against Chicago Alderman Raymond Lopez, the Associated Press projected.

The congressman, who dominated in funding and endorsements, was facing his first primary challenger since 2018, when he won congressional office.

García thanked those who helped make his reelection possible.

Three-term U.S. Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García has won the Democratic primary against Chicago Alderman Raymond Lopez, the Associated Press projected.

"I say 'thank you' from the bottom of my heart," García said.

The congressman, born in Mexico, spoke on Tuesday night of his 41-year journey to bring more diversity to all levels of government.

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Both García and Lopez are Democrats, but they have very different views on major issues. Last month, ABC7 sat down with both candidates to talk about key issues and what might decide the race.

Lopez had argued García is no longer the right fit for Illinois' 4th Congressional District, which is predominantly Hispanic and includes working-class communities and neighborhoods on the city's Southwest Side as well as wealthy suburbs.

Lopez, 45, is one of the most conservative members of the Chicago City Council, often backing police. He has called García an "extreme Democrat."

García, 67, says voters have repeatedly put him in office, including in 2022 after a remap added new territory to the district. He's also a former state legislator and city alderman.

García dominated in fundraising, raising $376,000 last year compared to Lopez's $46,000 in the same time period, according to federal election records. He picked up endorsements from labor groups, while Lopez had support from the Chicago police union.

But that support was not enough for Lopez on Tuesday night. He has unsuccessfully run for mayor, and now congressman.

"So Wednesday, city council, back to work, back to doing what I do best. And hopefully, this will be a wakeup call for many members of Congress who saw challengers in the primary that they need to start delivering for their districts," Lopez said on Tuesday night.

Earlier Tuesday, Lopez said his day was like most election days for him.

He brought donuts to poll workers and gave $50 at 20 sites for the workers to buy lunch. He said he has always brought food and added the cash after the COVID-19 pandemic started, because he said the workers preferred to buy lunch and not share.

"My judges actually asked if they could just buy their own. I said, 'Fine. We can help facilitate that,'" Lopez said.

But offering cash to poll workers now has the attention of the attorney general's Election Integrity Unit, which confirmed the office is looking into a complaint filed by García about Lopez's gifts to poll workers.

"This is a distraction when we should talk about issues he's had months, to talk about things. And all he wants is to talk about is the kind of donut I brought for breakfast," Lopez said.

García said the action of giving out money at a polling place is not the image Illinoisans want of their elected officials.

"It's fine to take donuts, but when you start passing cash around in envelopes, it sure raises a lot of concerns," García said. "I think anytime cash is being spread around at a polling place on Election Day certainty suggests there could be efforts to move Chicago backwards. Chicago ain't moving backward."

ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington said García filing the complaint is a way to emphasize the difference between him and Lopez.

"He may be, more than anything, trying reinforce in the voters' minds that Ray Lopez is the past represents the Democratic machine's past," Washington said.

Meanwhile, there's no Republican running in the heavily Democratic district, so García is expected to win outright in November.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.