LITTLE VILLAGE — Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García and activist Jesse Jackson are backing Brandon Johnson for Chicago mayor.
García — who also ran for mayor — announced his endorsement Friday morning along with several of his political allies on the Southwest Side. Jackson, a famed and longtime political activist, announced his endorsement later in the day.
Johnson, a Cook County commissioner, is facing off against former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas in the April 4 runoff. Vallas came in first of nine candidates in the Feb. 28 election, receiving 33 percent of the vote. Johnson followed with about 22 percent.
García came in fourth Feb. 28, netting about 77,000 votes, after initially entering the race last year among the frontrunners.
RELATED: How Jesús ‘Chuy’ García Went From Frontrunner To 4th Place
García has been a fixture in Chicago politics for four decades, previously serving in the City Council, Illinois Senate and as a Cook County commissioner. He announced his latest mayoral campaign in November, shortly after he was reelected to represent Illinois’ 4th Congressional District.
García became well-known across Chicago during his 2015 mayoral run, when he pushed incumbent Rahm Emanuel into a runoff. Emanuel was ultimately reelected.
García’s support of Johnson comes as Johnson and Vallas hope to court Latino voters.
“It’s not a decision taken lightly. And I make it standing for the best interests of the progressive movement and without any other hesitation or reservation,” García said at a news conference in Little Village. “The choice is clear. Chicago is a city of strong public schools, thriving neighborhoods and progressive values. It is through this lens that I see Brandon Johnson as the right choice and why I’m endorsing him for Mayor.”
State Sen. Celina Villanueva, Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd) and state Rep. Edgar Gonzalez Jr. joined García to endorse Johnson. The three Southwest Side officials had all backed García in the Feb. 28 election.
Later Friday, Jackson announced his support for Johnson in a news conference at his Rainbow PUSH organization’s South Side headquarters.
Jackson, who worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. in the ’60s, has been an influential force in Chicago politics for decades.
“For more than a decade, I have watched Brandon grow as a father, an organizer, an elected official and a leader in communities across our city. And I have proudly watched him embrace and embody the fight for justice, and show courage in the face of injustice against the people of Chicago,” Jackson said in a statement.
“Brandon understands the plight of the working poor, and he has the interest of hard-working people. He understands people at the very bottom, and he understands the hurt, the abused and the rejected. He will fight for them,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s son, Rep. Jonathan Jackson, who was elected to Congress last year, backed Johnson earlier this year before the runoff election.
García is the fifth former mayoral candidate to make an endorsement in the runoff, with state Rep. Kam Buckner announcing his support for Johnson on Thursday. Activist Ja’Mal Green, businessman Willie Wilson and Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) are backing Vallas.
Incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who came in third place Feb. 28, has not announced any endorsement plans.
See Block Club’s roundup of mayoral endorsements here.
The runoff is April 4. Early voting starts March 20.
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