Why Is Luis Gutierrez Even Holding Office?
By RAY HANANIA • Friday, May 11, 2012
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez has made a career out of exploiting and dividing the Mexican American community in his 4th Congressional district to preserve his lock on the district.
He is Puerto Rican, a Latino community with automatic American citizenship. That contrasts sharply with Mexican Americans, many of whom are not yet citizens or have family members and relatives who are seeking citizenship or have issues with our nation’s anti-Hispanic Immigration and Naturalization policies.
Ironically, the 4th Congressional District was drawn up to elect a Mexican American representative. Yet they can’t. Why?
If the ethnicity of an elected official has an impact on representation, then the 4th Congressional district is turned upside down.
The district is 74 percent Hispanic/Latino American. There are about 630,000 residents in the district, which means that there are more than 466,000 Hispanics in the district.
Of those 466,000 Hispanic/Latino residents, more than 75 percent of them, or about 349,000, are Mexican American. Only 10 percent, or 46,600, are Puerto Rican residents. The remainder are a mix of Cubans, South Americans and other Latino ethnics.
Ironically, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans are often at odds on political issues. That’s in part due to the fact that most Puerto Ricans do not have to worry about immigration issues while the fear of the INS haunts many Mexican Americans.
One consequence is that Mexican Americans vote at one of the lowest rations of any ethnic group, while Puerto Ricans have a very high voter turnout.
In the last election for the district, on Nov. 2, 2010, there was a 52 percent voter turnout across the state or more than 719,000 voters went to the polls. In the 4th Congressional, however, only 8,907 people voted. Gutierrez received the majority of the votes, a total of 73 percent, or 6,557, while his nearest opponent, Israel Vasquez received only 19.66 percent, or only 1,751.
Vasquez is a conservative Republican financial planner. Of course, it’s tough to defeat a Democrat in the district that was also drawn to have an overwhelming Democratic electoral base. But in Latino politics, Latino heritage is as important to Latino voters as is political affiliation.
In the Democratic primary race, Gutierrez was unchallenged. He got 3,121 votes.
The most startling statistic is that Gutierrez’s power base is practically non-existent. He lives off a fake reputation of being a champion of Hispanic rights, but he spends all of his time and huge war chest to fuel inter-Mexican rivalries, keeping the Mexican American community so divided that they don’t have the time to focus on taking over the congressional district.
Gutierrez donates thousands of dollars to Mexican American candidates to challenge other Mexican American candidates or to create division in communities that are overwhelmingly Mexican American.
How can that be? Well, Mexican Americans are easily drawn into the divisive internal community battles by Gutierrez.
Yet Gutierrez is so vulnerable, if Mexican Americans and their Anglo allies were to come out in strong numbers to challenge him.
Here is the startling fact about the 4th Congressional District:
The district had a total voter turnout of only 8,907 votes in the November election in 2010.
Compare that to the neighboring district. In the 1st District, where Bobby Rush is congressman, a total of 56,470 people voted in the same election. In the 2nd Congressional District, where Jesse Jackson is the congressman, a total of 111,840 people voted in that election. In the 3rd Congressional District, where Dan Lipinski is congressman, a total of 102,161 people voted.
Gutierrez has no right targeting other communities when he lives in an ethnic glass house.