Longtime Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez said Wednesday that he will not run for mayor of Chicago, saying he doesn't want to distract from his daughter's bid for alderman and that he instead plans to focus on aid to Puerto Rico.
"I want to thank the hundreds of you who have called to offer support and encouragement for me to run for mayor of our great city," Gutierrez said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
"Because of my un-ending respect for all of you, I have listened carefully and believe me, from the bottom of my heart, I am deeply honored," he continued. "But I made two promises, which most of the people in this room know all too well, and I must honor those promises and so I must humbly decline."
He instead issued a call for Jesus "Chuy" Garcia to run for mayor, calling Garcia - who forced Emanuel into an historic runoff election in 2015 - "a man for these times."
Garcia "will give to Chicago what it desperately needs," Gutierrez said, adding that he believes Garcia to be a "leader who sees all of our citizens as worthy, equal participants in this vibrant city of ours."
Garcia has yet to publicly announce his decision on the race, but said in a statement he "will continue to dialogue with Chicagoans from across our great city to talk about solutions that will both unify us and improve everyone's quality of life."
"Calls and messages have been coming in from people all over the city urging me to run, including Congressman Gutierrez," Garcia said in a statement. "And, I want to thank everyone for their encouragement and support from the bottom of my heart."
Currently a Cook County commissioner, Garcia won the Democratic primary for Gutierrez's congressional seat in March, all but guaranteed to win the general election in the reliable blue district.
Gutierrez, 64, shocked political circles in late 2017 when he announced that he would not be running for re-election to the congressional seat he's held since 1992. He said then - and reiterated on Wednesday - that he planned to move to Puerto Rico after his term in Congress ends.
But Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's announcement last week that he would not seek re-election set off a flurry of speculation for dozens of potential candidates - Gutierrez and Garcia included.
Nearly two dozen Latino political leaders met behind closed doors for three hours Friday night and decided to poll voters on three candidates: Garcia, Gutierrez and Ald. Ricardo Munoz.
Gutierrez publicly mulled a run, telling the Chicago Sun-Times, "I owe it to Chicagoans that are calling," but ultimately decided not to enter the race.
Born in Chicago to Puerto Rican parents, Gutierrez is a leading member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. In May, his daughter Jessica Gutierrez launched her campaign for 30th Ward alderman on the city's Northwest Side - a race that factored into Gutierrez's decision not to run in an already crowded field.
"There is nothing more important than the success of your child especially when she is carving her own path as a young, independent, progressive leader," he said of his daughter. "The last thing I want to do is undermine her independence or undercut her avenues for success."
Before Emanuel's announcement, there were 13 total candidates seeking to take him on in the February election. After Emanuel bowed out, names of dozens of potential candidates circulated as some began making calls to gauge support, while others publicly announced they would not join the race.
Among those considering a run is Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who is circulating nominating petitions but has not formally announced her candidacy.
Rep. Mike Quigley, who is currently running for his sixth full term in Congress, is reportedly polling for the race and told the Chicago Tribune he's thinking about a run but doesn't "feel compelled to rush into a decision."
Chicago lawyer and former mayoral candidate Gery Chico confirmed Wednesday he is considering throwing his hat into the ring. He raised more than $4.5 million during his previous run for mayor and "can unify the city," a campaign spokesperson said in a statement.
Bill Daley, state Rep. LaShawn Ford, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers, as well as several alderman, were also rumored to be flirting with a run for mayor.
Among those declining to run were outgoing Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, adviser to former President Barack Obama Valerie Jarrett and former Gov. Pat Quinn.