There’s nothing normal about the way Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez’s retirement announcement went down.
The abruptness and timing of the congressman’s announcement raises questions about his motives.
The abruptness of his decision, the suspicious timing, the immediate coronation of a successor — all of it set off a flurry of speculation Tuesday that Gutiérrez had made some kind of grand inside play, perhaps brokered with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Even in the great game of Chicago politics, where backroom deals are a way of life, Gutiérrez’s move managed to stun and surprise the Democratic establishment. In one fell swoop, the veteran congressman managed to upend the city’s congressional delegation, remake the 2019 mayoral race and set off a domino effect on local offices.
“This is clearly a game of musical chairs by the insiders, orchestrated from the top,” said Bob Fioretti, a former alderman who ran for mayor against Emanuel and is now running for county board president.
Before most up-and-coming elected officials could even examine their own prospects for Gutiérrez’s seat, it was already too late. By the time news broke that the congressman was on his way out, he had already handpicked and endorsed Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia to succeed him.
Garcia, who nearly knocked off Emanuel in the 2015 mayoral runoff, had been viewed as the most prominent possible challenger to Emanuel in 2019.
A spokesman for the Emanuel campaign said the mayor had no knowledge of or involvement in Gutiérrez’s plans.
Last modified: November 29, 2017