Rep. Gutierrez' rigged succession: it's the Chicago Way

“[There is] no quid pro quo,” — Rep. Luis Gutierrez’ denial that there was a secret, backroom deal behind his sudden, surprising retirement from  his congressional seat and endorsement of Jesus “Chuy” Garcia as his successor.

Oh, sure. That’ll rank right up there in Chicago political lore with the late Mayor Richard J. Daley’s famously absurd assertion that, “There are no slums in Chicago.”

As the Chicago Tribune explains in its marvelously skeptical editorial, “Rep.

Gutierrez tries to anoint Garcia successor in Chicago politics shake-up. (Chicago Tribune)

Gutierrez tries to anoint Garcia successor in Chicago politics shake-up. (Chicago Tribune)

Gutierrez and the 4-move checkmate,”

Just like that, the handoff unfolded. Less than 24 hours after the news broke he would not seek re-election, longtime U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez held a news conference to anoint his successor. And his successor’s successor.

Gutierrez not only gets to name his successor;  the pieces will fall in place like a game of dominos. The Tribune pointed out that also attending the Gutierrez/Garcia coronation was Ald. Ricardo Munoz, 22nd…

who intends to run for Garcia’s seat on the County Board. Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Munoz to the City Council seat in 1993 when Garcia, who previously held it, advanced to the state Senate. And if Munoz transfers to the County Board, Mayor Rahm Emanuel gets to appoint Munoz’s replacement on the City Council.

Right, it’s all a coincidence. None of this was planned, as Tribune columnist John Kass explains in his wonderfully Royko-esque column, “Luis, Chuy and Rahm: Chance or a dance?”

See, Garcia forced Rahm Emanuel into a rare runoff and remains the mayor’s most likely opponent in the next election. Garcia goes into Congress and he’s eliminated from the next mayor race. Except for this bit of history that Rahm should recall: Harold Washington also was in Congress and considered to be no threat to the Chicago political machine. Until he became mayor.

The Gutierrez announcement was so sudden, coming a day after both he and Garcia filed their nomination petitions for their current elective positions that it so obviously is a stinking ploy.  Gutierrez’ notoriety as a far-left loudmouth is so well-known that even out-of-town publications had to wonder about the machinations of the Chicago Way. (SeeLuis Gutiérrez’ totally abnormal retirement ploy: The abruptness and timing of the congressman’s announcement raises questions about his motives,” by the fine former Sun-Times reporter )

That abruptness and timing has led to all sorts of speculation, including Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown suggesting that the resignation is part of Gutierrez’ plan to run for president.

Whatever the explanation, it doesn’t matter. What’s going on here is the usual treatment of Chicagoans: They are expected to follow along like sheep heading for the slaughter house. It’s not for them to know what’s really up. It’s as if we’re supposed to believe that everything’s legit. Suckers.Chumps.

It’s further evidence–as if any was needed–that the Chicago Democrat Machine (yes, it still exists) operates in its own interests. It’s a  feudal system, oiled by heredity and favoritism. It has no worries about the popularism of both the right and the left that is roiling Washington and so many state capitals (excluding, of course, Springfield) is infecting Chicago.

Obvious to everyone except the beneficiaries of this Medieval system is that it ain’t working. Witness how Chicago continues to lose population. Witness its financial sickness. Witness the corruption and crime. When will Chicagoans say “enough”?

Related: A timely behind-the-scenes look at “Chuy” Garcia’s mayoral campaign.


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    The sad part is that the system still works for the Democratic Machine. Even when a so called 'reformer' gets elected (Preckwinkle, Quinn) they get swallowed up by the Machine and become one of them.

  • I have no respect for Gutierrez, especially after he said several years ago that his "only loyalty was to immigrants." How is it that this man who was elected by American citizens to represent their interests was able to avoid any censure from his House colleagues for his disloyal comment? Equally disappointing is the fact that the Chicago media failed to hold him accountable. Shameful, but just another example of our destructive identity politics.

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