Rep. Luis Gutierrez said yesterday that he was asked by Gov. Blagojevich if he'd like to be appointed to Obama's Senate seat, but declined because the governor wanted someone who would run for reelection in 2010. If that's true, it probably rules out Emil Jones as a candidate. Valerie Jarett also seems to have taken herself out of contention. It also probably means Jesse Jackson Jr. has a better shot at the seat than I might have thought. That's because, if Blagojevich did want to pick Guttierrez, it suggests he's looking to shore up support among non-white Democrats for a reelection bid -- support he certainly would need given his abysmal approval ratings (and there aren't any other plausible Latino picks that I know of). For more on the other potential picks, see Adam Doster's piece on the main site.
On an related note, Guttierrez's willingness to serve for two years but no longer is curious, until you consider that Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley is up for reelection in 2011. Gutierrez, who is only 54, was, along with Jackson, thought to be a potential mayoral candidate the last time around (2007), but declined to run. If Gutierrez is turning down a seat in the Senate, that seems like pretty good evidence to me that he has already made up his mind to run next time around. A serious challenger would have to make a decision relatively soon given how many candidates for city council he or she would need to recruit. The city council's 50 aldermen currently support Daley almost unanimously, and so, in order to govern effectively, a mayoral candidate would need to recruit and help fund a slate of candidates to run with him. Otherwise, Daley allies would do their best to destroy the new mayor -- even if Daley lost, the Daley machine would remain enormously powerful. Harold Washington, for example, had famously epic fights with the city council.