Although four local elected officials already collectively had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in their quest to replace him, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) changed his mind and announced Thursday that he would seek a ninth term in 2008 instead of retiring.
Gutierrez attributed his change of heart to his wife’s improving health — she had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, which is now in remission — and his desire to continue to fight for immigration reform.
“I didn’t want to turn my back and betray the issue I’ve devoted the last 15 years of my life to,” Gutierrez told the Chicago Tribune.
Gutierrez announced in late 2005 that the 2006 election would be his last. But the assumption in Chicago political circles was that he would run for mayor in 2007. When he didn’t, political insiders assumed he had decided to stick around Congress.
But for the next several months, Gutierrez said nothing publicly about his plans, leading would-be successors to prepare to run for his seat.
With Gutierrez’s announcement Thursday, three of the four Democrats who were running to succeed him have bowed out of the race: Chicago Aldermen Ricardo Munoz and George Cardenas and Cook County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado. But a fourth Democrat, Alderman Manny Flores, who has raised more money than the other three Democrats, told the Tribune that he would take a few days before deciding what to do.
— Josh Kurtz