After 12 terms in Congress, Illinois Democrat Luis Gutierrez announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection when his term ends in 2019. He endorsed Jesus “Chuy” Garcia to run for his seat.
The retirement decision was announced only hours after Gutierrez had filed re-election petitions.
The move was meant to make it extremely difficult for any other candidate but “the chosen one\” to have enough time to get the required signatures. They have less than a week to do it.
While today`s announcement and endorsement came as a political shocker, if you look at Gutierrez` campaign fund there have been signs he`s winding down.
He has $77,944 on hand and has only raised $21,813 since January.
WGN Investigates also found in Gutierrez` federal election commission filings payments to his wife.
Soraida Gutierrez stood with her husband today. She’s listed as a treasurer, manager and fundraiser for the campaign.
Gutierrez has paid her as a campaign aide for years, but the amount has increased in recent months. So far this year she`s received $42,000. In the last 10 years, she`s made more than $79,000 from the campaign.
“It’s not illegal, but it’s a conflict of interest and shouldn’t happen,” says Dick Simpson, political science professor at UIC. “But a lot of congressman like
Congressman Rush, Quigley and former Congressman Schock and others in Illinois have put family members on the payroll.”
While County Commissioner Garcia is the obvious winner today, so is Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Garcia forced him into a runoff in 2015 and threatened to run again.
Congressman Gutierrez endorsed Emanuel over his friend Garcia back then leading some to wonder whether today’s move is part of a backroom deal.
Garcia denied that saying, “No deals. Absolutely not. No quid pro quo.”
Representative Gutierrez' biggest priorities are immigration and the rebuilding of his native Puerto Rico. Both are center stage in congress at the moment, adding to the surprise among many political watchers that he's chosen to retire now.