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.