Chicago mayoral election: Garcia blasts Vallas day after poll shows him lose frontrunner status
CHICAGO - For a second straight day, Congressman Chuy Garcia blasted a candidate who recently replaced him as a frontrunner in the race for Chicago mayor.
Garcia and a large group of female allies pointed to Paul Vallas receiving contributions from some wealthy Republicans and accused Vallas of double-talking the issue of abortion rights.
"If he weren't a Republican, why would they be giving money to Paul Vallas?" Garcia questioned.
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Vallas has long said the government should not legislate against abortion rights. He was smiling Friday about being endorsed by the Chicago Tribune, which called him "unapologetically wonkish."
"When you're in high school, they’re calling you a nerd. Of course when you reach my age I take it as a compliment," Vallas said.
Garcia and his most outspoken female supporters pointed to a 2009 interview in which Vallas described himself as "more of a Republican than a Democrat because, fundamentally, I oppose abortion." The edited clip is the subject of a digital ad bankrolled by the Garcia campaign.
Vallas has tied his personal opposition to abortion to his Greek Orthodox faith.
But he has emphatically insisted he is firmly committed to upholding a woman’s right to choose while maintaining Chicago’s role as a safe haven for women who have been descending on the city since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
As evidence, Vallas pointed to statements he made and the endorsements he received from Planned Parenthood and Personal PAC while running for governor in 2002 and lieutenant governor in 2014 as a Democrat.
Garcia doesn’t buy it.
"His words and his likeness speak clearer than anything else about where he stands on issues. He said he ‘fundamentally opposes abortion.’ Not sometimes opposes abortion. Not in certain circumstances. He said ‘fundamentally’ he opposes abortion. Chicagoans deserve to know that," Garcia said.
"Politicians say anything to get elected. They will seek to run away from their history and from things that they have unequivocally said in living color."
Former Mayor Richard M. Daley and Madigan are devout Roman Catholics who were personally opposed to abortion but publicly supported abortion rights.
Why isn’t it good enough for Vallas to do the same?
"Does anyone in Chicago think that mega-donors — Trump donors — would be investing $1.5 million if they didn’t think he cut the ideological muster of a Republican?" Garcia said, pointing to the business donations pouring into Vallas’ campaign fund.
"Given the assault on women’s rights stemming from the Supreme Court on down to other Republican officials as well as mega-donors, there is reason to think that Republicans and anti-choice Republicans would want to install a mayor who would be receptive to their agenda to limit or cut or reduce or eliminate women’s rights. We are simply availing the public of that information."
Retiring Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th), chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Workforce Development, said she wants a mayor who "fights for workers’ rights, fights for women’s reproductive rights — not someone who takes it away."
A former school counselor and area vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, Garza pointed to the six years Vallas’ spent at CEO of the Chicago Public Schools.
"I’ve seen Paul Vallas eradicate workers’ rights in every single institution that he’s been at. I want someone that’s gonna stand up for workers, who’s gonna stand up for women and who’s gonna fight on behalf of the people of the city of Chicago," Garza said.
Jessica Gutierrrez, a candidate for alderperson in the 30th Ward, said there is "no room for pro-life, fake-Democrats running in a pro-choice Chicago."
"I know one thing about Chuy and I’m confident that he is going to protect my reproductive rights. We will work together to ensure that Chicago becomes the safest place for women. Just like we fight every single day to make Chicago a sanctuary city for immigrants, we will make Chicago a sanctuary city for women from all over," said Gutierrez, daughter of former U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who relinquished his seat in Congress for Garcia in a classic, backroom, Chicago-style deal.
"Paul Vallas and fake Democrats cannot be trusted. … I’m standing next to somebody who’s real, someone who’s gonna fight for women. Someone who’s gonna fight for even our daughters who are yet to be born and for generations of women to come."
Vallas called the broadside a "desperation tactic" by a fading Garcia.
"Both Chuy and Lightfoot are desperate. Lori can’t run on her record and Chuy has no record. So, they have to resort to lies and smears," Vallas told the Sun-Times.
"The desperation in Chuy’s camp is running deep because he’s trying to re-brand himself as this centrist, pro-police candidate despite his past rhetoric calling for de-funding of the police and the fact that he’s surrounded with scandal."
Veteran Chicago Teachers Union staffer Brandon Johnson touted the endorsement of Pat Dowell, the third ward's city council member, who was an ally and defender of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
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Dowell now joins the ranks of former Lightfoot allies apparently alienated by the mayor's "my way or the highway" approach at city hall.
"I am supporting Brandon Johnson because he is someone who doesn't just talk the talk. He is someone that you can have a dialogue with. It's not one way or the highway," Dowell said.
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After Dowell spoke, Johnson compared Lightfoot's leadership style to former President Donald Trump's, adding that it's had negative consequences for everyday Chicagoans.
In a response, Lightfoot’s campaign listed a series of initiatives the mayor has collaborated with Dowell on.
Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.