Count Rep. Luis Gutierrez out of Chicago’s mayoral race.
Gutierrez, D-Ill., announced Wednesday that he won’t run to succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel and instead threw his support behind Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
“Please come and join me in drafting Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for mayor of the city of Chicago,” Gutierrez said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference. “We need Jesus who has a heart that is big enough for all of us.”
Gutierrez said he was setting up an exploratory committee for Garcia and was pushing to get his nomination petitions on the street by this weekend.
In explaining his thinking, Gutierrez said he intends to make good on his pledge to help Puerto Rico rebuild from Hurricane Maria and continue his fight for immigration reform when he leaves Congress at the end of his term. He also said he was taking a post as a senior policy adviser for the National Partnership for New Americans.
Gutierrez also noted that his daughter Jessica Gutierrez, is running her own campaign for alderman in the Northwest Side 30th Ward.
With Gutierrez taking his name off the board of high-profile contenders thinking about launching mayoral bids since Emanuel said last week he wouldn’t seek a third term, the field of candidates could quickly start to take shape.
Several high-profile contenders have been thinking about launching mayoral bids since Emanuel said last week he wouldn’t seek a third term. With Gutierrez taking his name off the board, the field of candidates could quickly start to take shape.
Some Hispanic officials in Chicago have been in a holding pattern waiting to see if Gutierrez or Garcia, a 2015 mayoral candidate who took Emanuel to a run-off, will make a bid for the 5th-floor office at City Hall.
Garcia, who has been running for the congressional seat Gutierrez will vacate, could not be reached Wednesday morning for comment on his plans. As Gutierrez pushed Garcia for mayor, Garcia was nowhere to be seen at the county board meeting. He was present earlier in the morning for committee meeting, but went back to the offices and didn’t reappear.
But even if he does announce his candidacy, that won’t necessarily prevent other prominent Latino candidates from getting in.
State Comptroller Susana Mendoza has been calling donors and labor leaders as she tries to line up a campaign for mayor, the Chicago Tribune has reported. Mendoza has declined to say publicly whether she is considering a run, saying she is focused on her November race for comptroller.
Gery Chico, an attorney and Emanuel’s opponent in the 2011 mayoral election, has been working on a potential run, too, and some Latino alderman also have said they were considering whether to get into the race.
But with Gutierrez out, all eyes in Chicago’s Latino political circles now turn to Garcia.
Garcia, 62, was close to launching a bid for mayor last fall, when Gutierrez’s surprise announcement that he would retire from Congress changed the political calculus. Gutierrez urged Garcia to run for his seat and the Cook County commissioner cruised to victory in the March Democratic primary.
Garcia’s pursuit of Gutierrez’s congressional seat cleared the mayor’s race from having a high-profile Latino candidate, which would have served as an advantage to Emanuel had he gone through with seeking a third term.
Last week, sources close to Garcia said he was leaning against making a run. An outpouring of support and encouragement at the Mexican Independence Parade over the weekend led to a fresh round of calls for him to run and prompted him to re-evaluate the decision a second time, a source close to Garcia said.
Now, Garcia is facing tremendous pressure to make a second run for mayor, two sources close to the county commissioner said. Gutierrez and Garcia talked before Gutierrez made his final decision on a mayoral bid, the sources said.
Garcia is close to a decision and top aides from his 2015 mayoral run have been reaching out to labor leaders and potential donors, the sources said.
Family will play a key role in what Garcia decides to do. His wife of more than 40 years, Evelyn, has multiple sclerosis. On one hand, the job of mayor would be more demanding and grueling than Congress, but on the other, it would come without the constant travel.
“No matter what, he would be home every night. That’s a positive,” a source said. “They’re talking about it.”
In an interview with the Tribune last November before Gutierrez announced his retirement from Congress, Garcia said he was closely eyeing another run after forcing Emanuel into a runoff in 2015, which amounted to a national embarrassment for the mayor.
Garcia said then that he had seen a lot of regrets around Chicago – from Latinos who didn’t take him seriously, from African-Americans upset over the Laquan McDonald shooting and continued violence, from whites who now seem him as “fair and even-keeled” and from voters of all stripes who bought into Emanuel’s narrative that Garcia shouldn’t be trusted with the city’s checkbook.
“There is great buyer’s remorse in the city,” Garcia said then.
Candidates who have declared they are running for mayor so far include former Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, former Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, millionaire businessman Willie Wilson, Chicago principals association President Troy LaRaviere, activist Ja’Mal Green, tech entrepreneur Neal Sales-Griffin, Southwest Side attorney Jerry Joyce, policy consultant Amara Enyia, attorney John Kozlar and DePaul student Matthew Roney.
Since Emanuel’s departure from the race last week, several other high-profile politicians have weighed a bid, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Bill Daley, and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley.
Chicago Tribune reporter Gregory Pratt contributed.
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September 12, 2018 at 12:45PM