Two-time presidential candidate Bernie Sanders gathered a crowd on Saturday in Humboldt Park to promote his populist agenda, showcase progressive ideals and support two Democratic congressional candidates from Chicago in hopes they will join him in Washington, D.C. next year.
The rally with the Vermont senator at the Humboldt Park Boathouse was part of Sanders’ multi-stop tour of Chicago to encourage more progressives to the polls with just over a week until the June 28 primary. Among several candidates he backs, Sanders has backed State Representative Delia Ramirez in the 3rd Congressional District race and civil rights activist Jonathan Jackson in the 1st Congressional District race.
Sanders castigated the power and influence wielded by the nation’s billionaires and said candidates like Ramirez and Jackson would join him in the fight for the needs of average Americans.
“These billionaires don’t want people like Delia and Jonathan in Washington,” Sanders told a crowd of about 300 people. “They don’t want them. We want them. They got the money. We got the power of the people.
Sanders told the crowd that Ramirez and Jackson both understand what is “deeply wrong” in the country and what needs to be fixed, such as affordable health care, a “living wage over $15 an hour , tuition-free higher education and working to ensure oil companies aren’t allowed to soak up massive profits while motorists are forced to pay $5-$6 per gallon for gas.
He said inflation, climate change, the war in Ukraine and more have all created a “pivotal moment in American history.”
“Now is the time to tackle all these demagogues who try to divide working (families) based on the color of our skin, where we were born or our sexual orientation,” he said. . “Now is the time to stand together.”
The event at the boathouse, which is located in the 3rd congressional district, was one of several Sanders events in the Chicago area as well as in Iowa and Wisconsin in recent days. He is praised Starbucks and Amazon workers for attempting to unionize and supporting striking workers at CNH Industrial plants.
Ramirez – one of four Democratic candidates vying for the 3rd District seat, including Ald. Gilbert Villegas, 36th – said she will fight for immigration reform, universal health coverage, the New Green Deal and against corporate influences in Washington.
“We are here at this particular place, at this particular time, because we have an emergency,” she said. “We understand that in this state, in this primary, we have the opportunity to send the most progressive and hardcore fighters in the community to every level of government.”
Both Ramirez and Villegas have won support in their high-profile intraparty fight for the sprawling new Latino-leaning 3rd District that winds its way from Chicago’s northwest side to the far reaches of DuPage County.
While Sanders’ Democratic socialist agenda may not play as well in suburban DuPage County towns where some moderate Democrats might view the progressive brandon as too left-wing, his support could help Ramirez in Chicago neighborhoods. who are expected to hold about 70% of the Democratic primary vote.
Villegas enjoys the support of Democratic U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego of Arizona, as well as local politicians such as former Northwest Side congressman Luis Gutierrez and outgoing Secretary of State Jesse White.
Sanders’ support for Jackson in the 1st Congressional District could help the descendant of famed civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson separate into the crowded field of 16 other Democrats vying to succeed retired U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush. Most of the Democratic candidates for the seat share similar positions on issues such as gun control, abortion rights and health care.
Sanders’ imprimatur could help Jackson make the case that he’s the real progressive in the race for the neighborhood that stretches from the South Loop to the South Suburbs.
Jackson said Saturday that he “runs on gas, guns and groceries” and wants to make this country better and more prosperous for everyone.
“Isn’t it strange that we are facing a shortage of baby food, but we have an abundance of bullets circulating in each of our communities,” Jackson said.
U.S. Representative Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Chicago, who represents the 4th congressional district, Illinois’ Latino-majority first district, attended the rally and also supported Ramirez and Jackson.
“As we build muscle and power in Congress, this is how we redefine who will run this country,” Garcia told the crowd. “It won’t be the billionaires. It won’t be corporations. It will be workers and young people and students and our future intellectuals. That’s who will run this country.
Saturday’s rally was capped off by organizers asking attendees to sign up to volunteer and join the group for a march to the polls and door knocking to spread the word progressive. Most of the crowd dispersed to continue their sunny Saturday while a few dozen people stayed to participate.
Before rushing to catch a plane, Sanders encouraged everyone at the rally to bring their friends, families and colleagues to the polls on June 28 to ensure high turnout for the upcoming primaries.
“Chicago now has the opportunity to send two great progressive fighters to Washington in Delia and Jonathan,” Sanders said. “Let’s make this happen.”
AD Quig contributed.