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Reader's Steve Bogira Takes Credit For Chuy's Mustache

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Apr 7, 2015 9:15PM

Jesus "Chuy" Garcia
If Chuy ekes out a victory in the mayoral race tonight, Steve Bogira says you have him to thank.

Mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has attributed some of his political success to his bushy, gray-streaked mustache, which the Cook County Commissioner believes has made him a more likable candidate. And, as Bogira reports, Chuy’s mustache got its humble start while the Chicago-native was in high school on the city’s South Side.

See, Chuy went to the Catholic high school Saint Rita with the senior writer for the Chicago Reader. Bogira, even then a newspaper man, was on a mission to get school administrators to lift a longtime ban on facial hair. In 1972, when Garcia was a sophomore and Bogira was a senior, Bogira successfully lobbied administrators through the school paper to "loosen up" the dress code.

He soon became chair of the school’s newly formed “dress code committee” and one of his first acts was to grant students the freedom to come to school with facial hair. Chuy, who appears clean-shaven in Bogira’s senior yearbook, began growing his signature mustache—which has become an iconic symbol of his progressive campaign to unseat Mayor Rahm Emanuel—shortly after. And the rest is history.

Which famous Chicago mustache will Bogira take credit for next? There's former Bears coach Mike Ditka's mustache, of course. Ditka also claims to have adopted the mustache in the early 1970s, though he has told reporters he began growing it for the purpose of promoting a line of sports bars.

Former Mayor Harold Washington also sported a well-known mustache; Garcia has said he would like to follow in Washington's footsteps, both in terms of representing voters of color and in terms of restoring a mustache to City Hall after nearly three decades without one.

But there are plenty of other famous Chicago mustaches for Bogira to choose from. Among them, Emanuel’s former political advisor David Axelrod, historic city planner Daniel Burnham and wealthy retailer Marshall Field.