Gutierrez Passes on Presidential Run

Retiring Illinois congressman says he’ll focus instead on mobilizing Latino voters

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., center, said he will focus on mobilizing Latino voters in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania rather than run for president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez said Thursday he would not run for the Democratic nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.

In an interview with SiriusXM set to air this weekend, the retiring congressman said he will focus on mobilizing voters in swing states, CNN reported.

“Now that time has transpired and I have been able to give it some thought, I believe the best use of my time and my energy and my leadership is [to] spend a lot of time in Ohio, Pennsylvania,” he said.

“In those two states, particularly, there are communities of Puerto Rican descent that need to get activated.”

Gutierrez announced last year he would not run for re-election and hinted that he might run for president when he announced.

An advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, Gutierrez is a vocal critic of Trump, calling him an “outwardly, explicitly racist American president.”

Gutierrez repeated that criticism in the interview.

“President Trump is a racist,” he said. “You see it.”

The Illinois Democrat has also been arrested twice since Trump took office protesting for immigrants’ rights.

Gutierrez also criticized Trump’s response to Puerto Rico’s recovery after Hurricane Maria last year and said it would be a driving factor for many Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. mainland.

“So, I am going to tell you we are going to fight, and we are going to struggle and Puerto Ricans are going to band together and they are going to make the most of it,” he said. “But I’ve got to tell you, as long as Trump is President of the United States, they are never going to rebuild it.”

Despite leaving Congress, Gutierrez had positive words for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“Lordy, Lord, I have my differences with Nancy Pelosi,” he said. “Oh, I have huge differences with Nancy Pelosi, but I would probably vote for her for speaker of the House.”

Gutierrez’s endorsement of Pelosi comes as many in the Democratic caucus are unsure about whether Democratic leadershipshould stay in place if the party should lose in the midterms.

What You Need to Know About Voter Registration and Turnout For Midterms

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.