HomeUS News updateChicago mayor Lori Lightfoot risks an early re-election knockout

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot risks an early re-election knockout

CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot is the first to admit that her bid for re-election won’t be easy.

“There are nine people on the ballot,” Lightfoot said in an interview with NBC News. “It’s impossible not to have a runoff.”

What is appearing possible, however, is that Lightfoot will fail to make it this far either.

In a Chicago municipal election, if a candidate fails to win a majority, The top two vote-getters then face off against each other in a second round of voting in April.

But with the February 28 election less than two weeks away, the firebrand Democratic first-term mayor — who quickly branded a national hate-hate relationship with conservatives — has at least three in the nine-person race. There are credible threats to face from opponents. His unfavorability has grown with Chicagoans fed up with gun violence. In recent polling, she has failed to make it to the top two.

All of this raises the surprising possibility that the mayor of a major city could be eliminated from re-election contention in the first round of voting.

“It’s getting harder and harder for her,” said one of her competitors, Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García said in an interview. “It’s a hell of a front to fight from her vantage point.”

A recent poll has Lightfoot in a statistical dead heat with two others – Paul Vallas, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, who has won the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police of Chicago, and Garcia, who has high name recognition. And who, in 2015, forced then-mayor Rahm Emanuel into the runoff. Garcia was defeated but was elected to Congress.

Lightfoot said, “I love people who consider me an underdog.” “I have been an underdog all my life. And I’ve always proved people wrong, so I’m right in that lane.”

Now Lightfoot is taking the fight to another candidate who is showing signs of rising: Brandon Johnson, a county commissioner who has the backing of the politically powerful Chicago teachers union, which has long sided with Lightfoot. .

At a candidate platform last week, Lightfoot focused his attacks on Johnson, who didn’t lead in polling the way Garcia and Vallas did. It appeared to be an acknowledgment that she was battling a rising candidate that could ultimately prevent her from advancing to the next round.

“I take it as a sign of desperation,” Johnson said of Lightfoot’s attacks. Johnson’s endorsement from the Chicago teachers union brings with it a strong, on-the-ground organization that can go door-to-door on his behalf. “She certainly recognizes that our movement is gaining momentum, and more and more people are responding to our message.”

The tenure of Lightfoot, the city’s first black woman and first openly gay man to serve as mayor, has been marked by uproar. She clashed with the Chicago Teachers Union, which went on strike under her watch, and engaged in testy exchanges with both Gov. JB Pritzker and his fellow aldermen.

In 2021, a media organization sued the mayor after she announced she would only give interviews with reporters of color to mark her halfway point in office. (At the time, the mayor said she was attempting to draw attention to a Chicago press corps that was overwhelmingly white and male.)

Most recently, her campaign faced scrutiny after trying to recruit public school students as volunteers for her re-election effort in exchange for school credits.

He has been credited with battling the Covid pandemic, including in a recent Chicago Tribune editorial, “far better than most mayors.” The editorial also commended him for improving the financial condition of Chicago. “Lightfoot has put equity front and center of his agenda,” the editorial said, “and has worked tirelessly to improve the economic prospects of the long-struggling neighborhood.”

Lightfoot notes he has been numbered before. In her first run for mayor, she received so little support that at times she did not qualify for the debate stage. Garcia and Vallas have had their own stumbling blocks recently. Garcia faced questions over the donation from FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, and Vallas’ endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police of Chicago intimidated him, especially amid news that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis would announce Monday’s decision on the union. He was about to speak in front.

Gun violence dominates the race

This time, given all the issues Lightfoot faces, it is the inevitable issue of crime that ushers in the Chicago mayoral race and threatens his re-election chances.

Nationally, the immediate aftermath of a Second City mass shooting is thrown into an ideological struggle over gun laws that plays out on cable news. City officials have for years pushed back on the notion that gun laws do little to deter crime. He says that despite local restrictions, guns come over the border from states like Indiana, even as far away as Mississippi, illegally landing in the hands of young people in and out of gangs. Despite federal and local law enforcement working to increase fines and bring more aggressive cases, Chicago remains one of America’s most dangerous large cities — even though violence in 2022 is down somewhat compared to last year Are.

The pain and anger at the local level is palpable when the crime is repeated. In one of the mayor’s own recent shows, the conversation over the past hour told story after story of neighborhood crimes: an armed robbery, a break-in, a burglary, and reports of shootings close to their homes included – “safe” neighborhood” – on Chicago’s North Side

“I know for many of you, you are feeling a touch of violence, maybe for the first time in your life in Chicago,” Lightfoot told the crowd, hoping to address questions he raised about neighborhood safety. wanted to make sure about

Lightfoot turned his point to the flow of arms into the city, including his fight to take out-of-state gun shops to court.

“We warned them, we gave them the data and they kept doing it. So this old litigant? she said, alluding to his past as a federal prosecutor. “We tied it up and we sued these f—ers—pardon my language.”

That line awoke a group of about 50 people on a Saturday afternoon in late January. But Lightfoot’s signature tough talk didn’t ease their fears.

“I feel bad,” said one North Side Chicagoan, who heard the mayor’s comments but did not want his name used. “I still don’t think she gets it.”

Greg O’Neill of Chicago, who helped host the event at Moe’s Cantina in the Wrigleyville neighborhood on the city’s North Side and had not decided on electing a mayor, said the number one concern she’s heard is a recent increase in neighborhood crime, and a sense of unease among friends and neighbors. Some of those with him shared those concerns.

“When you’re paying $20,000 in property taxes and there’s an armed robbery in your neighborhood at 1 a.m., people don’t think 20 grand is worth your money,” said one.

“It is growing in the affluent areas, we have become a target,” said another.

“From my point of view, the people who walk on the street are absolutely scared. And they are moving,” said another.

A recent poll showed that 63% of Chicagoans do not feel safe.

And one of them was Eddie Pulliam, who came from the city’s South Side that afternoon to hear Lightfoot talk about the deterioration of his neighborhood over time.

Pulliam said, “I just wish he would push harder to see what’s happening in well-established neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side.” “I am very troubled by the crime in downtown Chicago. What frustrates me is that crime is now on the North Side, and now it is a big deal.

In an interview, Lightfoot said that Chicago’s persistent crime is different from other cities. Generational poverty in some parts of Chicago combines with fragmented gangs, he explained, and it’s all exacerbated by a steady flow of illegal weapons.

“The biggest issue and existential threat to us in the city is the proliferation of illegal guns,” she said. He then hit out at his opponent, Vallas, saying that he was oversimplifying the problem in order to believe that hiring more police officers would fix the problem.

Vallas, also the previous City of Chicago budget director, like many of Lightfoot’s opponents, built his campaigns around the issue of crime.

‘Pressure Job’

while garcía is holding a polling lead, Vallas also gained momentum in the closing weeks, including winning the endorsement of the Chicago Tribune, which stated that Lightfoot was “reluctant to see this moment as the time for any sort of leadership reboot.”

After an event for senior citizens near Chicago’s South Side this week, Vallas said his plan to attack crime includes investing in the city’s South and West Sides — where some of the worst crimes traditionally occur. are – and add vocational training. But he believes the biggest concern is the lack of officers at some of the most dangerous campuses.

“There is absolutely no substitute for providing the resources and support to the police department so that they can protect communities and what you see is a significant degradation of the police department,” he said in an interview.

In a lighter moment, Vallas recalls supporting Lightfoot in his first bid for mayor and watching his transformation.

“It’s a job full of extraordinary pressure,” Vallas said. “It will take its toll on anyone. I can tell, I can hear the tension in his voice. That’s why I keep telling people, let’s go positive. Let’s talk about the issues and try not to talk about anyone else.



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