CHICAGO (CBS) -- Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th), who recently flirted with a run for mayor before dropping out of the race, announced Tuesday he will challenge U.S. Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D-Illinois) in the Democratic primary for the 4th Congressional District next year.
Lopez, one of the most conservative members of the Chicago City Council, billed himself as a centrist Democrat as he launched his campaign Tuesday at a restaurant in southwest suburban Berwyn, and labeled Garcia as too progressive for the district's voters.
"He has chosen the extreme. He has chosen to try to lead from the left of the left. And in the meantime, he has left everyone else out in the cold," Lopez said.
Garcia's campaign dismissed Lopez's campaign announcement as "nothing more than an attention-grabbing stunt."
Garcia campaign manager Manny Diaz also said Lopez's close political ties to indicted former Ald. Edward Burke "raises serious concerns about his ethics."
However, Garcia's own long political ties to indicted former House Speaker Michael Madigan also proved to be a thorny issue for the congressman during the 2023 mayoral race in Chicago.
Lopez also ran for the 4th District seat in 2018 after incumbent Luis Gutierrez announced his retirement, but ended up dropping out.
Lopez faces an uphill battle in taking on Garcia, who has not faced a Democratic challenger since first winning the 4th District seat by an overwhelming margin in an open race in 2018. Garcia also will undoubtedly have the financial and political support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which routinely supports incumbents in elections.
Speaking to CBS 2 Streaming Anchor Brad Edwards Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois) said Lopez is unlikely to be successful.
"I'm going to take a wild guess that Ray got bad intel that Chuy may not be running, so he may be gearing up in case there's a void as he gets his petitions ready," Quigley said. "The political strategist in me doesn't see him toppling the king. In politics in Chicago, if you take on the king, you'd better win."
While Garcia's own bid for mayor this year fell short, thanks in no small part to an uninspired campaign, he ended up endorsing Mayor Brandon Johnson in the runoff election, whereas Lopez backed the losing bid of Paul Vallas. Garcia likely can count on endorsements from Johnson, as well as the Chicago Teachers Union and other progressive labor unions that have long been his allies.
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