U.S. Representative ‘Chuy’ García reports $600,000 in first mayoral campaign contribution raised

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In his first fundraising report since launching his campaign for mayor of Chicago, U.S. Representative Jesús “Chuy” García reported a hefty $607,000 in contributions, largely from his traditional political allies.

The filing, filed with state officials Tuesday, offers a glimpse into the alternative funding sources he will tap after some of his former backers announced their support for Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. García’s fundraising disclosure shows he can raise campaign money without the unions that lent his support to his 2015 mayoral race against Rahm Emanuel, but it remains to be seen whether García can keep up the momentum.

According to the filing, García gave himself $95,000 from his congressional fund and received donations from legislative allies, including Senators Cristina Castro and Celina Villanueva; state representatives Aaron Ortiz, Edgar Gonzalez, Jaime Andrade and Theresa Mah; Representative Norma Hernandez; and Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya.

Other donations include $62,000 from PURPLE PAC, $25,000 from TRANSFORMATIVE CHANGE PAC, and $5,888 from U.S. Representative Ted Lieu of California. García also reported donations from Juan Gaytan, head of the politically linked Monterrey Security.

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The loot is a large sum compared to what most other candidates have reported so far, but García will likely need to expand his donor base beyond his political allies to keep pace.

Johnson, who is vying with García for progressive votes, has received endorsement from the Chicago Teachers Union, Local 73 and Health Care. He has also raised more than $600,000, much of which comes from those unions.

Candidates seeking to defeat Mayor Lori Lightfoot have failed to raise particularly large sums in this cycle, aside from Johnson, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, and businessman Willie Wilson. However, Lightfoot hasn’t brought in enough money to deter rivals.

In the latest fundraising quarter spanning July, August and September, the mayor’s main political bill, Lightfoot for Chicago, raised about $1 million but spent more than $607,000, ending up with about $2.9 million at hand, according to new disclosure requests.

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As of Oct. 15, the incumbent has reported raising about $1.3 million, the records show. More than $262,800 came from labor organizations, including a $150,000 donation from the carpenter’s union and $25,000 each from the Finishing Trades of Chicago Co-op and the plumbing union.

To help support the mayor, Lightfoot’s closest allies have created a new campaign fund that isn’t dependent on how much money donors can give or who they are – Lightfoot restrictions must keep.

While the 77 Committee is not limited in how much money it can receive or from whom, as an independent spending committee it cannot coordinate with Lightfoot or other political campaigns. It has already received $100,000 from politically connected companies — $80,000 from a table tennis company whose chairman is also president of an information technology company that does business with the city, and $20,000 from a South Side construction company that is on a city contractor list and also is working on the Obama presidential center.

Wilson reported raising just over $1 million, though almost all of it was a loan from himself. Records show that Wilson spent $906,000 and ended the quarter with nearly $4.7 million in the bank. That is almost all self-donated.

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According to the quarterly report, Vallas ended the quarter with the third most cash on hand with $852,000. He reported bringing in $153,370 in the quarter, a paltry sum compared to the $886,000 he amassed in the first quarter. But he’s reported more than $700,000 in donations this month, giving him a big financial boost and some momentum as he tries to build support.

Johnson has reported more than $679,000 in contributions from various labor organizations since early September, the data shows. That includes an initial $59,900 from the CTU — given before he was officially in the race — as well as additional contributions from the powerful union that total about $21,400.

Other notable labor donations to Johnson include a combined $240,100 from the Illinois Federation of Teachers, $250,000 from SEIU Local 73, and $100,000 from SEIU Health Care.

In the quarter ended Sept. 30, Johnson reported having more than $71,400 in cash on hand, campaign finance data shows. He has since reported raising more than $687,300.

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