Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Gutierrez mayoral poll: viable contender, torn about leaving Congress


WASHINGTON -- A poll Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) commissioned to test the waters for a Chicago mayoral run shows he is very viable -- and the favorite of Hispanic voters -- but as of Monday night Gutierrez was torn over running or staying in Congress and leading the fight for immigration reform.

I am told that Gutierrez will announce his decision Thursday when he makes a speech at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The poll of 703 likely city voters was taken between Oct. 5-7 by the Washington, D.C., firm, Lincoln Park Strategies, including interviews with 200 likely Hispanic voters done in English and Spanish. I was given the entire survey to review.

In a horse-race matchup, the front-runner in the Gutierrez poll is former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel at 27 percent to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, 19 percent; former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.), 9 percent; Gutierrez, 8 percent; Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), 6 percent, state Sen. James Meeks, 5 percent; City Clerk Miguel del Valle, 3 percent; Ald. Bob Fioretti, 2 percent and Chicago City Colleges Board chief Gery Chico, 2 percent.

Electing a mayor to replace Mayor Daley is likely a two-step process; no contender is seen as strong enough to win 50 percent of the vote in the Feb. 22 nonpartisan primary; the top two vote-getters will compete in an April 5 runoff.

Gutierrez's poll shows he is in a strong position to consolidate Hispanic support. Among Hispanic voters, Gutierrez led at 48 percent to 21 percent for del Valle and 7 for Chico.

Gutierrez huddled with supporters Monday morning in Pilsen before flying to Cleveland to help rally voters to support the re-election of Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), just one of many stops Gutierrez is making in other states to help Democrats on Nov. 2.

Nationally, Gutierrez's high profile on immigration issues makes him a sought-after figure by Democrats who need his help in getting out the Hispanic vote. Last week Gutierrez was in Florida to stump for Rep. Kendrick Meek in a big Senate race, returns there to campaign for Alex Sink, the Democratic nominee for governor, and travels to Nevada for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and California for Sen. Barbara Boxer, both in tough re-election battles.

I mention all this because Gutierrez in Chicago is often seen as only a local figure -- at times associated with controversy. Earlier, the FBI interviewed Gutierrez about ties to a corrupt developer, Calvin Boender. I'm told that Gutierrez believes there are no legal issues for him to be concerned about if he pursues a mayoral run.

The main issue for Gutierrez is summed up in his poll: 45 percent of Hispanics said their community would be better served if he stayed in Congress as a voice on immigration; 28 percent said Hispanics would be better off if Gutierrez ran an "aggressive" campaign to be Chicago's first Hispanic mayor.


He can serve this city and state the best if he reamins a senior member of congress. Please don't give up this status. We need someone with clout in Congress.

We need a Senior member in Congress. We cannot afford to lose a strong representative in Congress. This isn't just for his congressional district, but the whole state. Don't be taken away as a visible and forceful spokes person for us.


Interesting article today, Lynn…thanks. I’m a bit surprised by some of the numbers, especially by how poorly Gerry Chico and James Meeks did in the poll and, to a somewhat lesser extent, by how well Carol Moseley Braun did. But I don’t see how you conclude that Gutierrez can win based on an also-ran showing in a poll he commissioned. Even if he is “in a strong position to consolidate Hispanic support,” if you take the total vote of the three Hispanic contenders in the poll, you come up with 13% of the vote, still behind the two front-runners, Emanuel and Dart. Gutierrez also has several problems he probably can’t overcome:

--He has very few friends among the powers that be in the city. Those who feign friendship with him are those who need him for something.

--One wonders how he escaped more serious problems in the Calvin Boender business. Ike Carothers, a Daley loyalist, went away while Gutierrez skated for roughly the same type of activity. Either Gutierrez is more clever or has more friends than most people think. In any case, he will have a lot of explaining to do about his dealings with convicted felon Boender.

--He’s Puerto Rican, which doesn’t help with the Mexicans, who are the largest Hispanic voting group in the city. His work on immigration does help in this area, though.

--He’s just a hard guy to like.

What do I think Gutierrez will do? He’ll run for Congress and win (of course) and then make a lot of noise about running for mayor before trying cut some kind of deal with one of the frontrunners for his support, claiming that he can deliver the entire Latino community.

But we’ll see.

Mark Quinn

This is great news if Gutierrez gives up his seat to run for mayor. In a two person race, I can't think of anyone he can beat.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on October 12, 2010 7:04 AM.

President Obama official schedule and guidance, Oct. 12, 2010. Town hall meeting was the previous entry in this blog.

New Giannoulias spot from "Meet the Press" debate: Kirk's "whoppers" is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.