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It was only a few months ago that Congressman Luis Gutierrez was on the line assuring me that there was no way -- absolutely no way -- he was going to run for reelection.
He missed Chicago. He missed his family. He missed his friends. He was tired of the travel. He couldn't wait to be done with the weekend shuttles to and from Washington, D.C.
When I relayed his comments to an alderman who's known Gutierrez for years, I was advised not to believe a word of it.
Sure enough, I got back from vacation this weekend to discover that the alderman was right. While I was gone, Gutierrez announced he had changed his mind and was running for reelection after all.
At his press conference Gutierrez said he had changed his mind at the insistence of allies and colleagues who had all but begged him to reconsider.
That explanation drew laughs of derision from several aldermen who tell me they're convinced Gutierrez engineered his own draft-Gutierrez campaign.
So what's really going on? The best explanation I've heard is that Gutierrez made his initial announcement in order to clear the way for a mayoral run. He chickened out of that race when it became obvious there was no way he could beat Mayor Daley. As we all know, he wound up trading his endorsement of Daley for a promise from the mayor not to use public money on the Olympics. Now Gutierrez's backed off on his word just as Daley backed off on his promise not to use public money to fund the Games. I suppose the big question is why anyone believes anything these guys say in the first place.
The only remaining issue is whether Gutierrez will have opposition in the February 5 Democratic primary. Most of Gutierrez's wannabe successors -- aldermen Rick Munoz (22nd) and George Cardenas (12th) and Cook County Board commissioner Roberto Maldonado -- immediately dropped out as soon as the congressman announced he was running.
However, First Ward alderman Manny Flores remains in the race, at least for the time being. Flores says he'll hold a press conference to announce his decision whether to run or not. "I'm not trying to be coy," he said. "I'll make my announcement next week."
Unlike many of his council colleagues, Flores apparently took Gutierrez at his word when he said he wasn't going to run for reelection. Flores even thought Gutierrez might endorse him.
Oh well. Flores is only 35 . He's only been in office since 2003. He's just got a thing or two to learn about Chicago and its politicians.