Logan Square could soon lose a progressive alderman … only to gain a new progressive in Congress. Thanks to enthusiastic volunteers, 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa has nabbed thousands of signatures to launch his bid for a newly opening congressional seat.
The alderman announced his campaign for the 4th Congressional District on Nov. 28. By Dec. 2, the campaign had collected 2,000 to 3,000 signatures, well past the 860 needed to put Ramirez-Rosa on the March 20 primary ballot, said spokeswoman Monica Trevino.
“The energy is really palpable,” Trevino said. “We’ve had at least 100 volunteers coming into the office every day.”
The 35th Ward covers much of Logan Square, as does the 4th Congressional District.
Ramirez-Rosa Promises Progressive Leadership
Speaking at a rally in Berwyn on Dec. 2, Ramirez-Rosa said he wants to take his fight against the status quo to Washington, D.C.
“We need bold, progressive leadership in Washington, D.C., that’s going to move the Democratic Party to the left and that’s going to more vigorously oppose Donald Trump,” the candidate told LoganSquarist.
That goal echoed the slogan of “Bold Progressive Leadership” printed on the bright-blue fliers sent out with volunteers.
The alderman announced his campaign after current Rep. Luis Gutiérrez said he planned to step down. Gutiérrez is retiring to explore a presidential run.
A member of the Democratic Party and the Democratic Socialists of America, Ramirez-Rosa will face Chuy Garcia in the primary. Garcia himself ran a progressive campaign for mayor against Rahm Emanuel in 2015 and earned Gutiérrez’s endorsement for the 4th District seat.
Diverse Supporters Flock to Campaign
Even with all necessary signatures locked down, volunteers at Ramirez-Rosa’s Saturday rally still set out to knock on doors. The campaign wanted to reach more voters and get the most signatures of any candidate, the alderman told his supporters. In turn, those supporters said they believed Ramirez-Rosa’s claims of progressive leadership.
“I know that he’s dedicated to getting money out of politics,” said Rogers Park resident Zack Murstein, 28, who ventured down to Berwyn to volunteer. “I think we need him in Congress because of that.”
Around 50 people packed into Berwyn’s V-Bar for the rally in the southern part of the horseshoe-shaped 4th district. The diverse crowd, Ramirez-Rosa noted, included Latinos, elders, young people, African-Americans and whites. He contrasted that with the considerably less diverse Republican-led U.S. Senate, which passed a tax bill early morning on Dec. 2. That legislation would harm working Americans, Ramirez-Rosa said.
“As we saw, Republicans are not afraid to intensify their attacks on the working class,” he said. “The tax-cut scam bill that they passed last night is another example of how they take from the poor to give to the rich.”
Fighting the Establishment
The candidate gave an energetic speech to supporters seated on stools in front of the glowing slot machines at V-Bar. He vowed to continue pushing for progressive causes like police reform, affordable healthcare and protecting immigrants.
Ramirez-Rosa also touted his past success in what others called unwinnable fights. As a community organizer, he pushed back against President Barack Obama’s deportation of undocumented immigrants. Other activists told the alderman he couldn’t take on a popular, historic president like Obama, Ramirez-Rosa said.
The candidate also stood up to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, he said. As alderman, Ramirez-Rosa said he helped win $1 million per year for a legal defense fund for undocumented immigrants. He also helped defeat property-tax increases that would have harmed working families.
“I’ve taken on the establishment and won,” he said. “I’ve shown time and again that we could take on the status quo … and win big victories for the working class.”
The alderman told supporters he wants their help in creating his campaign platform. He said he hopes to hear what other progressives expected of a Democratic Socialist in national office.
“The key thing is we need elected officials that are tied to and accountable to movements for economic and social justice,” he said.
Ramirez-Rosa said he would release a platform “in the coming weeks.”