The fall race for Congress in the 4th Congressional District is now set. Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia will face Riverside Republican Mark Lorch in the heavily Democratic district, which is centered in the heavily Hispanic Northwest and Southwest Sides of Chicago, but includes Riverside, North Riverside, and the northern part of Brookfield.
Garcia (D-Chicago) rolled to victory last week in a three-way Democratic primary, capturing nearly two thirds of the vote. Garcia received 66 percent of the vote. Nonprofit executive Sol Flores received 22 percent of the vote, while Chicago Police Sgt. Richard Gonzalez received 12 percent of the vote.
But Flores handily carried Riverside, where she gained a following among activists from the Indivisible West Suburban Action League group, some of whom volunteered on her campaign.
“The western suburban section of this severely gerrymandered district found a voice in Sol Flores,” said Nilsa Sweetser, a founding member Indivisible West Suburban Action League and a resident of Riverside. “Through numerous visits to Riverside, she listened to our concerns and showed us we matter.”
Flores won Riverside Township, which includes almost all of the village of Riverside, much of North Riverside, and the Hollywood neighborhood of Brookfield, winning 53.5 percent there compared to 35.1 percent for Garcia.
Flores ran even stronger in the village of Riverside, winning most of the village’s precincts by more than a 2-to-1 margin, while Garcia carried North Riverside.
But Garcia piled up big margins in the rest of the district winning 68.39 percent of the vote in the Chicago part of the district and 59.6 percent overall in the suburban areas of the district.
Garcia had a huge edge in name recognition. He was the favorite in the race ever since late November when longtime incumbent Luis Gutierrez abruptly withdrew from the race and endorsed Garcia to succeed him.
Garcia, 61, a resident of the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, has been involved in Chicago progressive politics for more than 35 years.
Lorch was unopposed in the Republican primary as two possible challengers were knocked off the ballot with petition challenges and another, Jay Reyes of Riverside, decided not to run after initially filing nominating petitions to do so.
Lorch said that he decided to run for Congress because he was offended by what looked like a backroom deal for Garcia to replace Gutierrez as the candidate at the last minute.
“That was kind of what spurred me into action,” Lorch said. “I absolutely reacted to what happened.”
Lorch received 5,767 votes running unopposed in the Republican primary while 74,616 people voted in the Democratic primary illustrating the huge Democratic edge in the district.
The 36-year-old Lorch works in finance, specializing in corporate valuation and advising businesses on mergers and acquisitions.
Lorch is trying to organize a campaign while continuing to work at his job. On March 17 he held a combination meet and greet and fundraiser at the Riverside Golf Club. He has yet to file a report with the Federal Election Commission but has registered his campaign committee with the FEC. He doesn’t have any campaign staff and is unsure when and if he will hire staff.
One of the people he has met with, in a March 18 visit arranged by a mutual friend, is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
“I wouldn’t say everything about Scott Walker perfectly aligns with my views, but I think he’s done an amazing job in the state of Wisconsin,” Lorch said.
Lorch said that he will provide an option for voters who do not want to vote for career politicians.
“It’s very important to provide the voters of our district a choice outside of the Democratic primary winner,” Lorch said.
Asked to describe his views, Lorch said, “I would probably would fall closer to a moderate Republican, but I don’t like those labels. I can confidently say I’m not a far-right conservative Republican.”