I have to say I was shocked to hear that U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez will not run for mayor of Chicago.
In a speech Thursday at the University of Illinois at Chicago the congressman announced his decision not to run. He stated that his commitment to push for immigration reform in Congress was his main priority.
"That is my vocation and that is where I will put my energy in the coming months," he said, according to the Chicago Tribune's Clout Street.
I thought that Gutierrez actually could have wound up in a runoff for the mayor's seat.
One thing that was overlooked was the number of people that he has helped become U.S. citizens over the years. His citizenship workshops have helped more than 50,000 immigrants in the Chicago area become U.S. citizens and a potential voting bloc for Gutierrez.
He also has national name recognition and is seen as a champion for immigration reform. This is interesting because he is Puerto Rican and is viewed as a stronger advocate for immigration reform than many of the Mexican-American congressmen from other states.
It's true that a mayoral candidate would have to focus on local issues and immigration is a federal issue. The movement for immigration reform is growing stronger and Gutierrez has been pressuring the Obama Administration and Congress to move faster.
The announcement was praised by leaders in the immigrant rights community and they agreed that Gutierrez is needed on the national level to push for immigration reform.
"His decision today shows his strong commitment with the immigrant community," read a statement released Thursday afternoon by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "We thank him for being a champion pushing for immigration reform. We believe that his role at the national level is critical to move forward comprehensive and humane federal solutions for the broken immigration system."
I think the mayoral race will be less interesting without Gutierrez, who also has accused Rahm Emanuel of not doing enough for immigration reform. He definitely would have been unafraid to challenge Emanuel.
I would have liked to see him run and I think he would have garnered more citywide support than people think. But I understand his commitment to immigration reform and the importance of seeing that through.
There are still plenty of other people running. Among the announced Latino candidates are Chicago City Clerk, Miguel del Valle; Chairman of the City Colleges Board and former Daley chief of staff Gery Chico; and Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus, pastor at the New Life Covenant Church in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.
De Jesus has faced controversy for working against a high school for gay students and was criticized by leaders of the gay community when he was considered to replace Billy Ocasio as alderman.
There's no shortage of news in this mayoral race.