Bernie Sanders embraces Chuy García at a rally in Little Village on Thursday. Credit: Ashlee Resin/Sun-Times

Bernie Sanders believes the “political revolution” he called for as a presidential candidate in 2016 is well under way in Chicago. The proof? It was in the room with him at a rally in Little Village Thursday.

“The establishment of Chicago knows you’re here, and they are getting nervous,” the U.S. senator told a raucous crowd of several hundred people packed into the Apollo 2000 theater.

Sanders was referring both to the supporters—many of whom chanted “Bernie! Bernie!” at various points during his 20-minute address—and to the roster of local candidates running in the March primary that espouse his progressive, left-wing agenda. Chief among them is Jesús “Chuy” García—the favorite to replace Democratic rep Luis V. Gutiérrez in Congress.

“We are here today because we wanted to let Bernie Sanders know that the revolution is alive and well in the Chicagoland area,” García said. “We knew the challenge he posed almost two years ago—for young people to get engaged in politics and then run for office—is alive and well (in Chicago). And it just so happens, Bernie has decided to come from Burlington, Vermont, to review the troops.”

Credit: Ashlee Resin/Sun-Times

Part of that “army” is a slate of young Latino candidates who say they want to take back the southwest side from Chicago machine politics. “I’m running against the political machine that has not worked for our community,” said Aaron Ortiz, a 26-year-old high school counselor running for First District state representative. Alma Anaya, 28, running to replace García as Cook County commissioner, Seventh District, and immigration attorney Beatriz Frausto-Sandoval, 37, who’s running for Cook County circuit court judge, also spoke at the rally.

One of the biggest cheers of the event came when Cook County assessor candidate Fritz Kaegi referred to Cook County’s “corrupt” property tax system. “We’re in the center of a political earthquake,” Kaegi said, adding that “black and brown communities pay the highest [property tax] rates in the city.”

Noticeably absent from Bernie’s army on stage: a candidate for governor. Democratic hopeful Chris Kennedy mingled in the crowd but only got a brief shout-out from García, who formally endorsed him last September. Meanwhile, Our Revolution Illinois, a political action organization that spun out of Sanders’s run for president, announced on Thursday that it was endorsing Daniel Biss for governor.

Sanders didn’t make a peep about the governor’s race, an omission he had earlier explained to the Washington Post as follows: “Let me be very clear: Bernie Sanders will make endorsements, and Our Revolution will make endorsements. Sometimes they will make endorsements in races I’m staying out of. I will not be making endorsements in the governor’s race in Ohio or Illinois.”

Credit: Ashlee Resin/Sun-Times