As the race to replace Congressman Luis Gutierrez in the Fourth Congressional District heats up, it doesn’t look there’s any coronation looming.
Gutierrez, who’s stepping down after his term expires next year, says he has no plans to endorse any of his wannabe successors until we’re closer to the Democratic primary next February.
And even then it won’t be an easy choice, he says. He’s golfing buddies with all of the announced candidates: aldermen Manny Flores (1st) and Rick Munoz (22nd) and Cook County Board commissioner Roberto Maldonado. “Manny Flores got his start in my office as a congressional aide,” says Gutierrez. “Rick Munoz — I felt I raised him. And I’ve known Roberto since my ’86 [aldermanic] campaign. I told them all — put an organization together, raise some money, tell me what you stand for, and I’ll make a decision.”
My admittedly cynical translation: after the New Year, Gutierrez will check the polls and jump on the bandwagon of whoever’s out in front.
Speaking of Gutierrez endorsements, I couldn’t resist asking why he’d endorsed Mayor Daley in the February municipal election. The mayor didn’t need it — he was clearly going to win regardless — and it made Gutierrez look inconsistent: for months he’d been lambasting corruption and incompetence in the administration. Moreover, he endorsed Daley only a few weeks after teasing his old Humboldt Park political rival, Miguel del Valle, about trading his endorsement of the mayor for a job as city clerk.
Gutierrez says he gave his endorsement because the mayor asked him to: “The mayor called me on the phone. He said, ‘Lou, come on down, I want to talk to you.’ We had breakfast at a little place on Jackson. Seven-thirty in the morning on a Saturday — we talked for an hour and a half.”
The only thing he sought in return for his endorsement, he says, was a promise not to spend public money on the Olympics. “The mayor told me he had already committed to that. I said, ‘I want you to do it again.'” So at the press conference, he did.
Of course, about a month later, Daley backtracked and pledged several hundred million dollars in public “skin money” to back the games, as it’s commonly known the International Olympics Committee requires. At least he kept his promise to del Valle.