CHICAGO – Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez told a press conference on Tuesday that he will not seek reelection to the US Congress after 25 years representing Illinois District 4, but made it clear he is not bowing out of the political fray.
Side by side with Gutierrez, one of the most combative Latino politicians in his defense of immigrants and his criticism of President Donald Trump, was Mexican American Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, commissioner of Cook County where Chicago is located, and who announced that he will seek to succeed his fellow Democrat in the US House of Representatives next year.
Gutierrez seconded that decision: “It has never been more important for the future of America to have an immigrant voice at the table when national policies are being made,” he said. “Chuy is the kind of leader our district needs to carry us into this uncertain future.”
Gutierrez, 63, did not speak about his own plans for the future, which local media speculate might include a campaign for governor of Puerto Rico, the land of his parents and where he lived as a child.
The Puerto Rican congressman has become one of the chief promoters of comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, where in the last two months he has gone all out to gain more US government support for the recovery of Puerto Rico following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Gutierrez’s decision comes after that of veteran Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, of Cuban origin, which means the US Congress could lose two of its best-known Hispanic politicians, though the Puerto Rican counts on Chuy Garcia replacing him.
“I would not have made this decision unless there was somebody who could step up and give new life to the agenda in Washington DC,” Gutierrez said about Garcia, whom he praised for his tenacity, conviction and his ability to be a Democratic leader.
Garcia, born in a rural area of Mexico’s Durango state, and who arrived in Chicago in 1995 when he was just 8 years old, thanked Gutierrez for his support and the chance to take advantage of his legacy to become part of new progressive movement in the US House of Representatives.