Even some of Jesus "Chuy” Garcia’s closest friends initially thought that the 58-year-old Cook County commissioner would have no chance in a last-minute run against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I told him not to do it,’’ said Matt Piers, who has known Garcia for 35 years, “because I did not think it was doable” for a guy with no cash or connections to take on an incumbent with so much and so many.
One of four challengers, Garcia raised only $1.4 million in the months that followed—compared to the $13.6 million that Emanuel’s campaign took in. Just before the election, the current mayor welcomed his old boss the president back to town, too. At an event officially designating the old Pullman Historic District a national monument, Obama joked about the not-so-sly timing by referring to his longtime dream of becoming the first president to declare a new monument in the sub-freezing temperatures of mid-winter “Chi-beria.” And as long as he was there, he lavished a few compliments on his former chief of staff, calling him “an essential part of my team in the White House during some very hard times for America. I relied on his judgment every day, his smarts every day, his toughness every day.’’