Approximately $2.8 million in outside money in Villegas, Ramirez Illinois 3rd Congressional Primary

Spending of about $2.8 million from outside groups is a big factor in the Democratic primary for the newly minted 3rd congressional district, where Ald. Gil Villegas (36th) and State Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, are the favorites.

CONTEXT: The new 3rd was designed by the state’s Democratic mapmakers following the 2020 census to recognize the growing Hispanic population in the state by creating a second district with high potential to elect a Hispanic to Congress.

The new 3rd is approximately 43.7% Hispanic of voting age and is rooted in northwest Chicago and the northern suburbs of Addison, Bensenville through West Chicago in Winfield. It is strongly Democratic; the winner of the June 28 primary is almost certain to clinch the seat in November.

ALSO CURRENT IN THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY: Iymen Chehade, a college professor who features in the House Ethics survey by Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., and Juan Enrique Aguirre, a registered nurse interested in equity issues in the cannabis industry.

ELEVATED BY CANDIDATE CAMPAIGNS THROUGH JUNE 8: Villegas, $949,926; Ramírez, $616,212; Chehade, $150,747; and Aguirre, who did not file a June report, $11,172 as of March 31.

The amounts raised by the Villegas and Ramirez campaigns are overwhelmed by money pouring in from outside national groups that are not supposed to coordinate or communicate with the campaigns they are trying to help.

Ramirez has support from some of the more left-leaning groups in the Democratic orbit, and Villegas, by comparison, is backed by more moderate progressives whose ranks include House members from swing quarters. The 3rd District battle is part of a larger proxy fight by groups wanting to pull Democrats further left. It is being played in a safe Democratic neighborhood. The winner of the June 28 Illinois primary will win the seat in November.

NON-GROUP EXPENSES: According to the records of the Federal Election Commission – which require independent spending groups to declare who they support or oppose:

  • About $1 million was spent by outside groups to support Ramirez and some $565,000 to oppose Villegas.
  • About $800,000 was spent by outside groups to support Villegas and some $420,000 to oppose Ramirez.

Among the biggest spenders:

  • Villegas served in the Marines. VoteVets Action Fund as of Thursday spent a total of $959,000; $741,200 to support Villegas and $218,000 to oppose Ramirez.

VoteVets President Jon Soltz said, “We won’t hesitate to compare Gil’s record to others when it comes to issues important to the people of the District.”

For Ramirez, the women of the EMILY list vote! so far it has reported an independent spend of $163,332, $398,000 from the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC and $637,900 from the Working Families Party PAC, which, aside from the independent spend, also paid for two polls.

DMFI, the pro-Israel PAC, backing Villegas, spent $157,223 to defeat Ramirez who is backed by Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., one of eight Democrats to vote against defense funding Iron Dome missile defense for Israel last year.

The Working Families Party highlights on its webpage, among other members, Garcia and her fellow “Squad” — Democratic Representatives Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.


VILLEGAS: As I reported in November, Villegas, 51, a council member since 2015, is a former Illinois State Navy official and bakery truck driver who co-founded a government relations firm.

Villegas joined the Marines after graduating in 1988 from Theodore Roosevelt High School at 3436 W. Wilson Ave., where he played baseball and Roughrider football.

During his four years in the Corps, Villegas rose to the rank of corporal, becoming a logistics specialist deploying for stints in Japan, the Philippines and, during Operations Desert Shield and Storm, Saudi Arabia.

Villegas is the chairman of the city council’s Latino caucus.

RAMIREZ: As I reported in December, the daughter of immigrants, Ramirez, 38, is the first Guatemalan American to serve in the Illinois General Assembly, where she serves as Deputy Majority Leader. She was first elected to the State House in 2018.

Living in Humboldt Park since age 7, Ramirez attended Sabin Elementary School, 2216 W Hirsch St., and Prosser Career Academy, 2148 N Long Ave., during his first three years of high school. She graduated from the now closed St. Gregory High School, 1677 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., in 2001.

After high school, Ramirez began working in neighborhood nonprofits while taking classes at Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. St. Louis Ave., majoring in justice studies. It took him 12 years to graduate.

She is the founding executive director of the Center for Changing Lives, a social service organization on the Northwest Side.

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