State Rep. Delia Ramirez trounced Chicago Alderman Gil Villegas in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ newly drawn and solidly blue 3rd Congressional District, besting an influx of spending by billionaire-backed organizations working to defeat progressive candidates nationwide.
“Tonight, the Illinois 3rd Congressional District has spoken — we are rooted and we are ready,” Ramirez said after she was officially declared the winner. As of this writing, Ramirez leads Villegas by a margin of 65.8% to 23.7%.
Democratic Majority for Israel, a billionaire-funded political action committee with ties to AIPAC, spent more than $157,000 on the race in an attempt to defeat Ramirez, a Medicare for All and Green New Deal supporter endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Rep. Chuy García (D-Ill.), and other prominent progressives.
Ramirez also faced opposition spending from the Mainstream Democrats PAC, a group funded by billionaire LinkedIn co-founder and venture capitalist Reid Hoffman. The organization has invested heavily to beat insurgent progressives and boost right-wing Democrats — including Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) — in midterm primary races across the country, with mixed success.
The Charter Schools Action Fund and the National Association of Realtors also delved into the race on Villegas’ side.
“In our corrupt political system, billionaires and their super PACs are spending millions to defeat progressive candidates,” Sanders said earlier this week. “They want a ‘two party’ system in which everyone is owned by wealthy donors. They have the money, but we’ve got the people.”
Ramirez, who vowed to reject corporate PAC money, benefited from significant outside spending by progressive groups such as the Working Families Party, which poured nearly $638,000 into the race on her behalf.
“Delia Ramirez has already proven what a Working Families Democrat can do in office, and now she’s going to bring that leadership to Congress,” Natalia Salgado, director of federal affairs at the Working Families Party, said in a statement late Tuesday. “In just three years as a state legislator, she led successful efforts to codify abortion rights, pass Medicaid coverage for everyone over 42, and secure hundreds of millions of dollars in rental and mortgage relief for people across Illinois.”
“Delia has always shown up for her community and tonight, voters showed up for her,” Salgado added. “We were proud to back Delia on day one, and we’re looking forward to partnering with her in Congress to pass a working families agenda.”
Leah Greenberg, co-executive director of the Indivisible Project — which also supported Ramirez — said that “we’re ecstatic a true, grassroots progressive is well on her way to Congress, ready to fight for her community.”
“It’s clear that Democratic voters want authentic community leaders like Delia, even if Republican mega-donors might disagree,” said Greenberg. “Delia is a model of bold, principled leadership and we’ve been proud to stand behind her… She’s the type of fighter we need to defeat MAGA extremism.”