REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ UN-ENDORSES LIPINSKI IN CHICAGOLAND SHOCKER
Gutierrez, moved by his better angels
Many progressives were bitterly disappointed when Congressman Luis Gutierrez went along with the powerful Daley Machine to endorse reactionary incumbent Dan Lipinski in his hotly contested bid for re-election. But, like so many politicians from Chicago, regardless of how they are on national issues-- and Gutierrez is good-- when it comes to local issues, the Machine rules. He's almost a mini version of Dick Durbin, an excellent progressive in Washington, but a pathetic hack and tool at home. So it came as quite the shock in Chicagoland politics today when Gutierrez officially withdrew his endorsement of Lipinski. But bitter disappointment from progressives didn't figure into the unprecedented action Gutierrez took today.
Gutierrez, of Puerto Rican heritage, represents Chicago's 4th CD, one of the strangest-looking gerrymanders in the country. It connects the Mexican-American communities on the Southside with the Puerto Rican communities on the Northside, while avoiding the huge Westside African-American community that seperates them (see map), resulting in an over 75% Latino congressional district-- though far more Mexican than Puerto Rican. Gutierrez had very friendly-- and beneficial-- ties with Lipinski's father and it is generally believed that his endorsement of the worthless son was a payback to the helpful father. But pressure from Mexican-Americans, in light of Lipinski Jr's aggressively anti-immigrant votes and positions, was too intense for Gutierrez to ignore.
Although the Machine has dredged up endorsements from every political hack they own, most members of Congress had managed to steer clear of this race pitting a not well-liked incumbent with a marked propensity to vote with the GOP on crucial issues against a straight-arrow progressive who many see as part of a reformed future for Chicagoland. Only Gutierrez had endorsed Lipinski and that endorsement has now gone up in smoke because Gutierrez' fierce committment to legalization for the undocumented was more important to him than the go-along-get-along political culture that comes first for lesser leaders than he is.
Like I said yesterday, the immigrant communities of Lipinski's district-- not just Latino, but Asian and Muslim as well-- have been key elements in the broad coalition backing Pera, a coalition featuring women's right's activists, pro-peace activists, environmentalists, and clean government reformers. The primary in the solidly Democratic district is this Tuesday.