Why Chicago Mayor Lightfoot Lost
When Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot entered the race in 2019, she was not expected to be the winner.
In the first round of balloting, she faced two major and much better-known opponents – former Secretary of Commerce Bill Daley, the son of the legendary Mayor Richard J. Daley, brother of Mayor Richard M. Daley, and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
It was widely predicted that Daley would easily garner more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round – avoiding a runoff. After all, this was Chicago where “Mayor Daley” was considered one word.
That did not happen, however. In a major turn of events, Daley did not reach the 50 percent threshold. In fact, he did not even make it into the top two to qualify for the runoff. He was out. It was shocking in a city where Daleys never lose.
The runoff was between Preckwinkle and the little-known Lori Lightfoot, president of the Police Board. That had the odds makers betting heavily on Preckwinkle. Chicago has had black mayors and a woman mayor, but never an openly gay mayor.
Lightfoot’s sexual preference was believed to be a stumbling block among the white – largely Catholic – Democrat voters– and a high percentage of black Baptist voters. (I have to digress here. This was another example of how the left and the media assume the American people are racists and homophobes. And another example of just how wrong they are.)
In the final round, the people of Chicago opted for change. They elected outsider Lightfoot over the establishment’s Preckwinkle.
Lightfoot had a good start, but it did not last long. Her handling of the Covid-19 Pandemic and the George Floyd riots were getting more criticism than praise. Her generally far-left approach to issues ran across the grain of a lot of Chicagoans. One might say that Lightfoot was heavy-handed. (Sorry about that.) Crime and taxes were also driving voters and employers out of the Windy City.
Lightfoot engaged in a number of embarrassing theatrics – singing, dancing, and putting on costumes. Apparently, she did not know that it is only in the circus that you send in the clowns during a disaster. And finally, there was that ever-present crime issue that went from god-awful to disastrous during her term. It was so bad that Lightfoot, the former president of the Police Board, lost the police union endorsement to an opponent, Paul Vallas.
Lightfoot came into the 2023 mayoral election as an underdog. Polling consistently showed her coming in third against former school board chief Paul Vallas and teacher union official Brandon Johnson. (No, his slogan was not “Let’s go, Brandon.”)
When the result came in, it was the first time in 40 years that an incumbent Chicago mayor was ousted – and that was Mayor Jane Byrne in 1983. She had ousted incumbent Mayor Michael Bilandic four years earlier. Putting aside the Bilandic/Byrne defeats, the previous time an incumbent Chicago mayor was defeated was in 1955 when a young Richard J. Daley knocked out Mayor Martin Kennelly in the Democrat primary.
What is amazing about this round was the miserably poor showing by Lightfoot. She only got 17 percent of the vote. What? That means that only one out of seven voters cast a ballot for the incumbent. That is not a defeat. That is a humiliation.
Vallas got the lion’s share of the vote at 34 percent. Johnson got 20 percent. That does not mean that Vallas has the advantage. In fact, he is the underdog for the final round. By most analysis, the Lightfoot voters are likely to go with Johnson – as are the majority of the 29 percent of voters who split among the six other candidates.
But … you cannot completely count out Vallas. Chicago Voters have a history of surprising results. Stay tuned.
So, there ‘tis.