Lori Lightfoot has entered the Chicago mayoral race. She becomes the ninth candidate in an open field that still has the potential of growing.
But Lori is a game changer in the crowded arena because she can win. She is a real contender, not a pretender. She has the stuff to bring for an upset.
She is Black. She is female. She is gay. She is the trifecta. She seems to be in the right place at the right time. She is the only candidate that incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel has commented on. The governor’s race is only months away, yet Chicago’s mayoral race, which is a year away, is already front and center.
The Chicago Tribune seems to have lined up behind candidate Paul Vallas and the Sun-Times behind Lori Lightfoot; the other candidates are not mentioned editorially or by political commentators.
At her announcement news conference, Lightfoot was asked if she is not biting the hand that fed her, meaning using her position as Chicago Police Board President, which Rahm appointed her to, to give her candidacy profile and platform.
But didn’t Rahm parlay his Chief of Staff position in the Obama White House into being Mayor of Chicago? Didn’t Garry McCarthy use his Chicago police superintendent job for his platform? Didn’t Paul Vallas use his Chicago State University position to prepare for the City Hall fifth floor spot? If that’s their entrée into Chicago mayoral politics, why should it be any different for Lightfoot?
Esquire Lightfoot offers a fresh, petite face. She is clean and provides a crisp perspective. She knows the ropes and what’s going on behind the scenes. A prosecutor, she works for Chicago’s leading law firm, Mayer Brown.
The Laquan McDonald Factor
Surely the Laquan McDonald police murder will be the center of this campaign. Garry McCarthy was Rahm’s sacrificial lamb for the McDonald murder. The McDonald videotapes surely become an issue.
When were they seen? Who saw them? Was their disclosure held up for political reasons, so that Rahm could successfully run for re-election? McCarthy knows absolutely, Police Chief McCarthy who was made the whipping boy. He will reveal much regarding this episode that gave Laquan’s family $5 million not to try the case in a courtroom.
Police board head Lori Lightfoot investigated the McDonald murder and knows much for sure that the public still doesn’t. This case will be the centerpiece in this campaign.
This campaign will undoubtably be ruthless.
McCarthy is a revenge candidate; maybe a man’s man and a policeman’s policeman, but still, he is a New Yorker and will not run Chicago. Chicago does not like out of towners at the top, be it police superintendent, public schools superintendent, park district superintendent, or mayor. Especially mayor…has there ever been a Chicago mayor who wasn’t from Chicago?
Paul Vallas is the other real contender. He knows city government. He was the comptroller in Mayor Richard Daley’s administration and will beat Rahm to death over budget issues.
He also knows where the skeletons are. And as the former head of the Chicago public schools along with Gerry Chico, Vallas can certainly shed light on whether 50 public schools in the Black community needed closing.
Paul, who called Rahm a bully that people don’t like when he announced his candidacy, will not defend Rahm’s nameless attacks on Daley, whom he blames for Chicago’s financial woes, particularly the pension crises.
Vallas has considerable experience in government administration, some of it not in Chicago. That may hurt him. Why did he leave? He left after losing the governor’s race. All of Paul’s election runs in Chicago have been losses. He ran for Lt. Governor with former Governor Pat Quinn.
Governor Bruce Rauner appointed him to Chicago State University to address the financial issues of the university. He was rejected internally and viewed negatively by CSU staffers. But Paul is savvy and knows key people in the Black community who embrace him.Upset In The Making
Lori Lightfoot and Paul Vallas are the front-runners of this race, and either can win. Both can force what is sure to be a run-off with Rahm Emanuel. Can they raise the money to put on a good forward-thinking race and to communicate their messages?
If money counts, Emanuel is the absolute king of fund raising, but you need more than money to win a campaign. Rahm’s money comes from out of town. Rahm has done a great job in building the central business district. New York real estate developers and builders have come to seize Chicago and give us a new skyline; the city is rich with projects.
But the riches are for downtown only. New massive developers come forth with epic ventures that will take multiple decades to realize – Amazon and the expansion of O’Hare Airport among them.
But for all of Chicago’s 77 communities, some look like war zones with zero development and zero opportunity. A phony man-of-the-people Rahm Emanuel wearing a blue sweater in a TV commercial won’t give all of us what we need.
Rahm’s biggest error is not listening to people, people who might help with problem solving. It’s a Rahm thing, I suppose, but it doesn’t work and it might be his downfall.
This campaign will probably be ruthless and undoubtedly will receive national attention. Right now, too many people are in the race and the lesser ones will drop out quickly as they simply won’t be able to compete.
But for sure, the race is on and I predict there will be an upset in 2019. I don’t know where or when, but there will be a tipping point along the way that will turn this whole thing, and the unsuspecting little lady just might slay the dragon.