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2023 Chicago mayoral candidate Jesús “Chuy” García endorsed Samie Martinez, a challenger to incumbent Ald. Rossana Rodriguez (33rd Ward), a spokesperson for the campaign confirmed on Feb. 18. The endorsement puts García in bed with allies of former Mayor Harold Washington’s fiercest enemies, including former 33rd Ward Ald. Dick Mell. García was once an ally in the City Council to Washington and frequently refers to that legacy as proof of his own progressive bona fides.

Rodriguez is a member of the Socialist, Progressive Reform and Latino Caucuses. She was among a wave of progressives who were elected to City Council in 2019. She won the seat after defeating Deb Mell, who had been appointed to replace her father Dick Mell, who was the 33rd Ward alder from 1975 to 2013. Laith Shaban, an investment advisor and housing developer, is also challenging Rodriguez

Along with progressive incumbent alders such as Daniel La Spata (1st Ward), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward), Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward) and Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th Ward), Rodriguez has endorsed Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson for mayor. Johnson’s progressive campaign has been the target of attacks from mayoral opponents García, community activist Ja’Mal Green, State representative Kam Buckner and Mayor Lori Lightfoot in recent weeks as the commissioner has surged in polls.

Samie Martinez, who is running on a law-and-order platform, is backed by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), former 12th Ward Ald. George Cardenas and Cook County Court clerk Iris Martinez (no relation to Samie). Samie Martinez was previously Cardenas’s chief of staff. 

Iris Martinez is also the 33rd Ward Democratic committeeperson, a chair formerly controlled by Dick Mell. Rodriguez has described her as an ally of Dick Mell.

In the early 1980s, Dick Mell, along with Ald. Ed Burke and then-Ald. Ed Vrdolyak, led a bloc of white, machine alders who prevented then-Mayor Washington from advancing his legislative agenda during his first term. In an interview in the 2022 documentary Punch 9 For Harold Washington, Mell says, “Everything Mayor Washington wanted to do, we blocked.”

In addition to Samie Martinez, the FOP has endorsed a number of challengers to progressive alders and spent money heavily in aldermanic and Police District Council (PDC) races. Martinez and the police union hired the same election attorney, Perry Abbasi, who is himself an FOP-endorsed candidate for PDC in the 25th District, which lies just southwest of the 33rd Ward.

The police union has endorsed incumbent alders Raymond Lopez (15th Ward), Derrick Curtis (18th Ward), Silvana Tabares (23rd Ward), Nicholas Sposato (38th Ward), Anthony Napolitano (41st Ward), and James Gardiner (45th Ward), none of whom are members of the Progressive Reform Caucus.


Samie Martinez has gotten donations from a number of people with ties to the old 33rd Ward Democratic machine, which Dick Mell controlled for nearly 40 years. Mary Hahne, who was formerly 33rd Ward treasurer and worked for Dick Mell’s Legislative Reference Bureau, donated $2,500 to the campaign. Custom Companies, a transportation company owned by the ex-husband of Iris Martinez, donated $5,000. 

Two of George Cardenas’s committees donated a total of $5,000. A committee for Ald. Brian Hopkins, who is running unopposed for a third term as 2nd Ward alder, donated $5,000.

A number of developers have donated to Samie Martinez’s campaign. So have the Teamsters Local 705 ($2,500) and former Cinespace Studios CEO Alex Pissios ($5,000), who helped the FBI convict Teamsters president John Coli Sr. of taking bribes in 2022.

Incumbent Ald. Rossana Rodriguez has been endorsed by a number of unions, including the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Teamsters Local 700, SEIU Healthcare Illinois, AFSCME and the Illinois Nurses Association. United Working Families, Equality Illinois, LGBTQ Victory Fund, Mijente, the Democratic Socialists of America and Northside Democracy for America are among a slew of political organizations that have endorsed her as well. 

Rodriguez has outraised Samie Martinez considerably, having garnered more than $250,000 from unions in this election cycle. The CTU, SEIU Healthcare Illinois and United Working Families have donated the most, giving $94,000, $88,261 and $27,077, respectively.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Congresswoman Delia Ramirez, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas and Governor JB Pritzker have also endorsed Rodriguez.

As of Feb. 18, 434 early votes had been cast in the 33rd Ward; 1,189 mail-in ballots had been returned in the 33rd Ward by Feb. 15, when the most recent data was available. Election Day is February 28.

is the digital news editor for The TRiiBE.