WASHINGTON — The surprise decision of Mayor Rahm Emanuel to not seek another term has prompted retiring Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., to consider a City Hall bid and re-evaluate his plans to move to Puerto Rico.
“I will think about it,” Gutierrez told me Wednesday, the day after Emanuel’s shocker.
“I’m not going to open up an exploratory committee. I am not going to open up a campaign. I am simply going to continue to talk. And I think I owe it to the Chicagoans that are calling and I am having conversations with,” Gutierrez said.
We spoke in the afternoon, after Gutierrez, in a speech on the House floor, called on President Donald Trump to resign and “spare the nation from this ongoing nightmare.”
There are some dozen-plus people either in the 2019 mayoral contest already or, with Emanuel’s sudden departure, mulling a run. Many of them are folks who have little name ID, would have to wear a billboard around the city to be recognized and will have difficulty mustering resources for a run.
This is the Chicago political reality of the moment. The current fluid field lacks top-tier contenders.
That is, Chicagoans with citywide name recognition, political battlefield and organizational experience and most important, the ability to jazz up folks with ideas and causes bigger than themselves.
Gutierrez has considered a mayoral run multiple times and has always decided to stay in Congress. This is his last term. If Gutierrez jumped in, he would be a top-tier contender. He — and other major players — are watching and waiting for now and want to remain in position.
In June, I reported that Gutierrez was planning to move to Puerto Rico next year, where he has family and a second home.
Though his term ends this January, he will be sticking around for his top “priority”: seeing his daughter Jessica get elected as 30thWard alderman. She is challenging Ald. Ariel Reboyras.
Chicago’s primary election for mayor and alderman is Feb. 26 with a runoff on April 2.
Gutierrez has been traveling nationwide to help Democrats on the November ballot.
This detour from the plan Gutierrez outlined this summer is “a momentary pause” to think about running for mayor.
Said Gutierrez, “I haven’t made any decision.”