On Tuesday, November 28, Democratic party leader Rep. Luis Gutierrez announced his plans to step down from Congress in 2019. Gutierrez’s decision could result in a restructuring of Chicago’s 2018 city politics, but especially the city’s Latinx politics.
Gutierrez has served the people of Illinois for 13 terms since winning the congressional seat in 1993. As a result, Gutierrez’s decision not to run for reelection has many politicians hurriedly establishing their own congressional campaigns.
Gutierrez himself has endorsed Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the Cook County Commissioner. However, representatives such as Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Gilbert Villegas, George Cardenas, and Joe “Proco” Moreno have also shown interest in campaigning for the seat.
Social media websites such as Facebook have been used as a platform for two-thirds of marketers as well as many politicians. Multiple nominees including Garcia have already set up social media pages advocating for their election.
Whichever direction the election may go, the 2018 primary is expected to serve as a unique bridge-building opportunity for Chicago voters of both Mexican and Puerto Rican descent. Each of the candidates for the congressional seat unites the Mexican and Puerto Rican communities in some way.
For instance, Alderman Ramirez-Rosa’s mother is from Mexico while his father is from Puerto Rico. Likewise, Commissioner Garcia is from Mexico while his wife is Puerto Rican.
Despite the bridging between communities, there are other challenges which may further divide the Latinx community during the election. The geography of legislative territories and the political organizations within these areas may provoke rivalries in different parts of Chicago.
It’s for this reason that the primary election for Gutierrez’s congressional seat must focus on the promotion and building of Latinx politics. Political rivalries could cause traction and draw focus away from the administrative policies Gutierrez so outspokenly advocated against.
However, despite Gutierrez’s departure from Congress, the Latinx community of Chicago can breathe a sigh of relief knowing Rep. Gutierrez won’t be retiring anytime soon. The congressman still plans to advocate on behalf of Puerto Rico, which is still struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Gutierrez also plans to continue advocating for immigrant rights. He plans to travel across the U.S. with his family after the end of his term in 2019.
“This is my time to move on,” Gutierrez said. “I want to take my energy and abilities to somewhere where I know I want to place them.”