Featured image: Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who recently decided not to seek reelection. | U.S. House of Representatives
Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-4th), whose district includes a small portion of Melrose Park, has decided not to run for re-election.
The official announcement came Tuesday afternoon at a press conference in Chicago. At the press conference Gutierrez endorsed Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the March Democratic primary.
Freshman Chicago Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, a progressive Democrat, also announced on his website that he would be gathering petition signatures to run for Gutierrez’s seat.
Gutierrez will serve out his term, which ends in January 2019.
The congressman, who will turn 64 in December, is the longest serving member of Congress from Illinois and is his 13th term as a member of the House of Representatives.
He was first elected to the House in 1992 when he was a Chicago alderman from the Humboldt Park area of Chicago.
The 4th District was drawn to help elect an Hispanic member of Congress and is shaped like a C, with the largest portions of the district centered in the heavily Hispanic near northwest and southwest sides of Chicago.
The 4th Congressional district, which includes a portion of Melrose Park. | ChicagoNow
“The congressman is going to announce that he is not running for re-election,” said Douglas Rivlin, Gutierrez’s congressional communications director told Wednesday Journal prior to the press conference. “He’s not resigning, but he’s just deciding not to run, and that Jesus Garcia is going to run for his seat, and he’s throwing his support behind Mr. Garcia.”
The decision not to run for re-election marks a sudden change of heart for Gutierrez, who on Nov. 27 filed nominating petitions to run for another term in Congress. Also on Nov. 27, Garcia filed nominating petitions to run for re-election as a Cook County commissioner.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Gutierrez met with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel on Monday afternoon and informed him of his decision not to run.
The two recorded a joint radio interview and toured a Humboldt Park Welcoming Center for Puerto Rican evacuees fleeing the effects of Hurricane Maria.
Garcia had run against Emmanuel for Chicago mayor in 2015 and had been expected to challenge him again in 2019. Garcia is less likely to run for mayor if he wins a seat in Congress.
Gutierrez, who lived in Puerto Rico as a teenager, was known in Congress as passionate advocate for immigrants. He has also been an advocate for independence for Puerto Rico, and has been very active in efforts to help Puerto Rico in the aftermath of widespread destruction caused by Hurricane Maria.
In early November, Gutierrez was one of six Democratic congressmen to file articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. VFP
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