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Is Gutierrez Mayoral Favorite In Latino Community?

Send Your Concerns To Jay Levine
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U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois)

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois (CBS File Photo)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – There’s an old saying in sports: that winning isn’t everything. It’s the ONLY thing. The sport of politics, the race for mayor, may be an exception. CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine is following the race, which he says is taking on an increasingly ethnic and racial tone.

With the voter breakdown roughly a third black, a third white and 20 percent Latino, no single group is large enough to win by itself.

That’s why Congressman Luis Gutierrez’ impressive numbers in a poll he commissioned doesn’t necessarily mean he’s one of the favorites to win.

Gutierrez is one of three of the four possible Latino candidates for mayor who are of Puerto Rican descent.

The others are City Clerk Miguel Del Valle and Pastor Wilfredo de Jesus. City College Board Chairman Gery Chico is half Mexican.

Conventional wisdom and his own polls indicate Gutierrez is the heavyweight.

CBS 2 asked Gutierrez ally and Chicago Ald. Ricardo Munoz if Gutierrez is in this race to win, or to influence?

“Everybody gets into a race to win, that’s clear,” said Munoz. “But the win isn’t necessarily an electoral win for that particular race. If it benefits the Latino community and allows us to grow beyond just being a small portion of the city but actually a governing part of it, then that’s a win.”

And the candidate, a kingmaker. Will that be Gutierrez?

“They’re all sort of equal at this point,” Columnist Esther J. Cepeda writes, “at least in my mind, there’s no frontrunner.”

Former Alderman Manny Flores who dropped out of the race, throwing his support to Gery Chico on Monday, admits Gutierrez is popular.

“He’s a national leader in the area of immigration. The poll has indicated that a large number, the majority of Latinos in the city of Chicago really want him to remain as congressman,” said Flores. “And he’s done a great job in that area. But this is for mayor and the dynamics are gonna be different here.”

Flores’ support, Chico told us, is significant.

“I think it represents somebody who has a very strong record of public service, and it shows we’re building the coalitions necessary to win this office,” said Chico.

Or at least determine who wins.

“If there is a white candidate and an African-American candidate, the first one to secure the Latino base wins that mayoral race,” said Munoz.

That’s assuming a Latino doesn’t get into the April run-off involving the top two vote-getters in February.

CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall contributed to this report.

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