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Candidates make their cases in the Illinois 4th Congressional District race

Candidates make their cases in the Illinois 4th Congressional Distict race
Candidates make their cases in the Illinois 4th Congressional District race 04:37

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Election Day in Illinois is two weeks from Tuesday, but thousands are already early voting. Among the races CBS 2 is shining a light on is the Illinois 4th Congressional District race. Incumbent Jesus "Chuy" Garcia is taking on Chicago Ald. Ray Lopez. 

CBS 2's Chris Tye sat down with both to try to iron out what voters should be zeroing in on in the home stretch. 

Americans' approval ratings for the job being done by Congress are terrible. On that, the candidates agree. 

"This is a do-nothing Congress," Garcia said. 

"I think you have to be willing to advocate for what matters most," said Lopez. 

Who wins will hinge on what matters to residents inside Illinois' 4th Congressional District, bordering Burbank and Midway Airport to the south, Halsted Street to the east, Oak Brook to the west, and just shy of O'Hare into Franklin Park to the north. 

Garcia, who ran for mayor of Chicago since his last Congressional run, is up against Chicago's 15th Ward Ald. Ray Lopez. 

"I think the primary difference between Chuy Garcia and myself is that Chuy is an open border Democrat who has forgotten about everyone here that's been waiting for help," said Lopez. 

"This is an extension of Republican talking points and messaging that seek to vilify immigrants, that want to create fear," Garcia said. "They prefer to have the types of talking points that my opponent has simply to scare, to create fear, to distort, and to talk about Congress's inability to pass immigration reform." 

Lopez, considered a more moderate Democrat, helped lead the failed effort to end Chicago's sanctuary city status. 

Tye: You are doing things that are maybe antithetical to what you might expect someone running for a Democratic Congressional seat to do. You appear on Fox News. You are critical of the president. You are notoriously critical of Chicago's mayor. How are you playing this? Are you trying to pull over some Republican voters who might have otherwise never been democratic customers? 

Lopez: I'm a Democrat, born and raised on the Southwest Side. I'm not trying to play to the extreme. I'm not trying to out-crazy the crazy and out-left the left. I'm focusing dead in the middle because that's how I was raised.

Garcia doesn't buy it.

"Ald. Lopez is a confused Democrat who seeks to get as much publicity as possible," he said. "Where there's a camera, he'll be there. My question is, 'What have you delivered?' My record is consistent. It's long, and it's principled." 

The candidates' stances vary on everything from how to handle migrants to how to handle the Israel/Hamas war. Garcia is calling for a cease-fire. Lopez is calling for the full support of Israel. 

"I think we're showing who we are, and I believe that we must stand out and confront terrorism in all its forms, whether it's on the world stage or even in our own neighborhoods," said Lopez. "That's why I've become such a vocal advocate for standing up for victims against gang violence, fighting against those domestic terrorists in our neighborhoods, while Chuy has remained silent." 

"The violence has to stop, and we need to get on track toward a fair settlement of this lingering conflict in the Middle East, which is bad for Israelis, for Palestinians, but also for the entire region," said Garcia. "And it destabilizes economies." 

The two agree that the biggest threat to democracy comes from inside our borders. But while Lopez says both parties' extremism and misinformation campaigns are at fault, Garcia points to one party. 

"We're different," said Garcia. "I believe that most of the threats to democracy have come from right-wing extremists in the country fueled by the rhetoric of Donald Trump and other enablers in Congress." 

"I'm happy to criticize from the middle because both parties are, in fact, culpable," said Lopez. "And when you have individuals who always only see the problems and those that they are confronted with and not the problems in their own eye, you know, we have a problem," Lopez said. 

They largely agree on supporting Ukraine and chipping away at the $1.7 trillion deficit, though they have different approaches on how to do it. 

They each have a final pitch. 

"I'm a practical Democrat," said Garcia. "I have run in this district. This will be my third race. I have been elected by Democrats in both the city and the suburbs, including Independents as well. I am a coalition builder. I have fought the Chicago machine, helped dismantle the machines." 

"I think when it comes to policy, when it comes to politics, we are wildly different individuals," said Lopez. "But at the end of the day, voters have to choose whether or not they want someone who just speaks of what they're going to do or who actually delivers on what they say." 

Next Sunday, Tye will sit down with the two democrats vying to replace outgoing Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx. 

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