12th District latest battlefield in Chicago's political war
In next Tuesday's election primary election, the hottest race in the Hispanic community is for the 12th District state senate seat. Incumbent Democrat Martin Sandoval faces a tough challenge from teacher Edwardo Garza. It's a race that involves lawsuits and allegations of harassment.
This political slugfest is the latest battle in the ongoing war between Latino politicians aligned with Mayor Daley and his controversial Hispanic Democratic Organization, which was implicated in the Hired Truck scandal, and the independent Latino movement that more or less follows congressman Luis Gutierrez and Alderman Ricardo Munoz. They have been trading knockout punches for years now, and with so much on the line, practically and symbolically, this one could go either way.
Marty Sandoval claims to be pounding the pavement in Cicero, Berwyn, Stickney, and Chicago's Southwest Side, as he campaigns for re-election to a second term in the state senate, with the backing of Mayor Daley, Alderman Ed Burke, and HDO, which is accused of corruption in the city's the Hired Truck scandal.
That's a major campaign issue for Sandoval's Democratic opponent, teacher and community activist Eddie Garza.
"He has received over $50,000 of Hispanic Democratic Organization's money, which comes from Hired Trucks," said Garza, (D)-candidate for state senate.
"I'm known as a fighter, a fighter with passion and conviction. If they want to criticize me over that, then they can choose to," said State Senator Marty Sandoval, (D)-12th District.
The campaign's gotten even rougher in the past week, with Garza mailing out a flier to the district's Polish residents accusing Sandoval of spending tax dollars to put up a Mexican flag in the district. Sandoval fired back with a mailer calling Garza "fast Eddie" and accusing him of selling out the community to predatory lenders and the gun lobby. One of Garza's allies sued Sandoval for slander over that mailer.
The stakes in this one are unusually high, as the Latino community's competing factions, regular Democrats like Sandoval and independents like Garza, battle over the future of Latino politics on the Southwest Side.
"Thirty years ago it was about electing perhaps a Hispanic senator. Not anymore. Now it's about electing a qualified candidate," Garza said.
"He has no record of public service. He has no vision and all he's got left is desperation moves and tactics and negative campaigning," said Sandoval.
Sandoval is the favorite here, because he is well known, he is the incumbent, and he has got the backing of most of the big Democratic ward organizations in the district, which is a huge advantage in a low-turnout election.
Garza is endorsed by the Sun-Times and the Tribune. He has a record of public service in the community and he is running an excellent campaign for the first time out, but if he wins, it would definitely be an upset.
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