Congressman Luis Gutierrez Sunday endorsed Gery Chico for mayor of Chicago during an event at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. .
Gutierrez told NBC 5 prior to the announcement that he believed Chico was the best candidate in the race to replace Richard Daley.
A week after Chicago’s African American leaders struggled to narrow the field in behalf of "consensus candidate," former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun, the Hispanic community continues to have two major contenders.
City Clerk Miguel Del Valle is running in addition to Chico, former chief of staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley and former chair of the Chicago Board of Education.
Though Gutierrez and Del Valle, both of Puerto Rican descent, have had political differences over the years, Gutierrez said Saturday, "Miguel is an outstanding leader…it was a tough decision."
Chico is of Mexican-Greek-Lithuanian descent but, said Gutierrez, ethnicity is not the issue. "Chico is the stronger candidate. He's been a consensus builder."
Gutierrez began his Congressional career in 1993, the same year that Emanuel went to Washington to work for the Clinton administration.
Under Obama, delayed immigration reform has been an area of contention between the two. And Gutierrez took aim at Emanuel's recent campaign commercials saying, "There’s this huge valley between the Rahm Emanuel that I know ... and the newer, kinder, softer Rahm. Maybe he doesn't cuss anymore or send dead fish to people ... But immigration is a reflection of Rahm's past ... I want the next mayor of the city of Chicago to be consistent."
Gutierrez briefly considered running for mayor following Daley's September decision not to seek re-election. "I never really truly appreciated Gery Chico until this race," he said, citing Chico's education platform as a key reason for his endorsement.
Gutierrez came to prominence politically during the administration of Mayor Harold Washington. In 1986 he was elected to the city council. In 1989, two years after Washington’s death, Gutierrez endorsed Richard Daley for mayor, sparking criticism from anti-Machine democrats.
While Gutierrez's endorsement is a plus for Chico, the Hispanic vote in the November 201election can be described as anemic according to totals compiled by the Chicago Board of Elections. Wards represented by Hispanic alderman made up four of the bottom five in total votes cast.