Gutierrez says he's interested in Obama's Senate seat

November 17, 2008 3:52:53 PM PST
One day after the president-elect officially resigned from the US Senate, several people are trying to position themselves to be appointed to fill that seat. Add the name of 4th District Congressman Luis Gutierrez to the growing list of those who want to replace Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate. Unlike other members of Chicago's congressional delegation who covet the job, Gutierrez says he'll take the low-profile approach.

"If he calls me to serve, I will serve," said Gutierrez.

Casually sitting in his dining room, the eight-term congressional veteran Luis Gutierrez made a lower key pitch to become the next U.S. senator from Illinois. Recognizing the decision will be made only by his friend, Governor Rod Blagojevich, there's no sense, Gutierrez says, in putting on a public relations blitz.

"This is a campaign about convincing one voter, the governor of the State of Illinois, and I have a meeting scheduled (with him)," said Gutierrez.

Over the weekend, supporters of West Sider Danny Davis held a news conference to push their man for the job. On the North Side, Jan Schakowsky has been very public about her interest, and ditto for South Sider Jesse Jackson Jr.

Since 1992, Gutierrez has represented the 4th District, which snakes its way through heavily Latino neighborhoods on the North and South sides and Cicero. The former city alderman is now hailed as the nation's highest profile Latino lawmaker because of his work on immigration reform and environmental issues in Puerto Rico.

"As a U.S. Senator, he'd be able to take his fights of local Latino empowerment and immigration reform to the next level," said Ald. Ricky Munoz, 22nd Ward.

Gutierrez won 83 percent of the vote in the November 4 election, showing no effects of a controversial but real estate deal he made several years ago that involved since convicted developer Tony Rezko.

"If you know someone that gets into trouble, all of a sudden you're in trouble which doesn't happen to be the case," said Gutierrez.

Gutierrez says he will not be disappointed if the governor appoints someone else to the Senate. All he says he can do is to be ready if the phone rings.

"Everybody takes different roads to the same goal. Mine is, I'm gonna respect the governor, I'm gonna talk to him, and after we have spoken I'll be happy to talk to you once again," Gutierrez said.

While not divulging when his interview will happen, Gutierrez says he speaks frequently to the governor with whom he served in congress for several terms in the 1990s.

We have only mentioned the congress members who want Obama's job. There are state elected officials and others who don't hold public office to be interviewed by the governor.


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