S.R.O. rally for "Chuy" at the Heartland

S.R.O. rally for "Chuy" at the Heartland

Harold Washington campaigned at The Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park more than 30 years ago.

Barack Obama campaigned there in 2004 when he ran for the U.S. Senate.

And on Sunday night Jesus “Chuy” García rallied hundreds of supporters for a standing room only event at this cafe that was recently criticized by an adviser of Rahm Emanuel in the New York Times.

"Unless they get the crazy lefty money machine going nationally, it’s not going to matter that there’s a resurgent left," said an adviser to Mr. Emanuel who did not want to speak publicly about strategy. "The liberals at Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park can think great thoughts and read poetry for Chuy, but nothing else will happen."

The rally at the Heartland did feature a folk song for Chuy and even a rap song that slammed Emanuel’s closing of 50 public schools. The standing room only crowd at Heartland was standing on their chairs.

And the “liberals” in the 49th Ward vowed to get out the vote and win this election for García.

They represent the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Many said the Democratic Party has sold out to corporate interests and left out working people.

“We have a split in the party. Clearly we are in the ascendancy,” said Michael James, a co-founder of the Heartland Cafe, told the crowd.

Katy Hogan, also a co-founder of the Heartland, said that she has not seen this kind of unity and excitement since Harold Washington was elected Chicago’s first black mayor in 1983. She is a regional field director for García.

The election is building a spirit of community and unity across the city, Hogan said.

“We are introducing ourselves all over the city,” she added.

Cook County Clerk David Orr, Cornel West and Eliseo Medina, a national union leader with the SEIU and the United Farm Workers also attended the rally.

“You are going to take back City Hall for the people,” Medina said.

Orr criticized Emanuel’s lack of transparency and said he has not been honest about the city’s finances.

“The books are cooked,” Orr said.

García talked about the excitement building up around the campaign. Young people are asking him to take selfies and also sign their backpacks.

One teen screamed “I got a selfie!” And then showed the photo of her with García to her parents.

García attended the Cubs opening game Sunday and at Wrigley field supporters made a Chuy Cub logo. García is a White Sox fan.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect at Wrigley Field, and all the love was oozing out,” he said.

He said Chicagoans want a city that is loving and leaders who can relate to them. He told the crowd he would listen to them.

He outlined a few things he would do if elected.

1) Get rid of the red light cameras.
2) Target neighborhoods for development.
3) Go to Springfield to advocate for an elected school board.
4) Eliminate pay-to-play so those who get contracts with the city could only make donations of up to $750.

“This election makes you the boss,” García said.

The voters will decide. It’s not about “the money machine,” as Emanuel’s adviser said.

There’s palpable energy and excitement building on the Northeast Side and across the city for Chuy.

And don’t discount the power of poetry, folk songs and rap in galvanizing a movement.

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