U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García points to a likeness of his signature mustache on his nomination petitions before delivering them for his 2023 mayoral election at the Board of Elections on Nov. 28.

Mayoral candidate ‘Chuy’ García airs first TV ad, vows to bring back ‘safer Chicago’

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U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García launched his first TV ad of the 2023 mayoral election season Tuesday as he seeks to rebuild momentum in the campaign’s final five weeks.

The commercial, called “Home,” features García narrating as a camera pans over downtown Chicago and neighborhood houses before focusing on police evidence markers.

“This has always been home. But like many Chicago neighborhoods, too many nights we hear gunshots and face the reality of rising crime,” García says in the spot. “I’m Chuy García, and enough is enough. It’s time to get back to a safer Chicago now by getting more cops on our streets and illegal guns off of them.”

The congressman then says he wants to expand community-based violence prevention programs and tackle “the root causes of crime by investing in left behind neighborhoods.”

“Because getting back to a safer Chicago can’t wait,” García says.

For García, the campaign commercial comes at a critical moment. He entered the race as a perceived front-runner due to his high name recognition from the 2015 mayoral race and his time in Congress. In recent weeks, however, García has held onto more than $1.3 million dollars to spend closer to the Feb. 28 election, allowing his rivals to generate momentum of their own.

Earlier this month, García unveiled a plan for public safety that he said would include a “fully funded” Chicago Police Department and calls for hiring 1,600 more officers amid a spate of vacancies during the pandemic. His plan has drawn criticism from rival candidates Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson and Lightfoot herself, who accused García of copying Lightfoot’s plan for public safety.

Lightfoot, who is facing a tough reelection fight, launched her first TV ads in November and spent more than $1.9 million on advertising in the final two months of the year, according to state elections board filings. Johnson and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas launched their own ads earlier this month in an attempt to break out in the nine-candidate field.

Lightfoot’s initial TV commercials attempted to address crime in Chicago and soften her image of combativeness as it showed clips from her inaugural address nearly four years ago talking about her upbringing and her parents, including her mother who attended the event.

Lightfoot is also airing an TV ad criticizing García for ties to indicted former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and alleged crypto fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried in an attempt to bloody up a top rival.

Tuesday, the mayor’s campaign released a statement repeating claims that García is pilfering her platform and proposing initiatives she’s already put in place.

“If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then you’d think Mr. Garcia was gearing up to cast his vote for Mayor Lightfoot again this year. No matter how many times he touts his recycled public safety plan, nothing can change the fact that while the mayor was working to get guns off our streets, hire more police officers, and invest in our communities, the congressman was speaking at rallies calling to defund the police,” a campaign spokesperson said. “Compare their records and you’ll see, clear as day, who is doing the work to make Chicagoans safer.”

gpratt@chicagotribune.com



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