Lightfoot’s Fall Could Signal the Beginning of the End for Radical Big City Politics

News & Politics

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot became the first Windy City mayor to lose a re-election bid since Jane Byrne lost the Democratic primary to future mayor Harold Washington in 1983. It was an irony since Byrne defeated the Chicago machine politician Miichal Bilandic, who succeeded the late Richard J. Daley after the elder Daley’s death in 1979.

Lightfoot finished in third place on election day with 17.1% of the vote.

She lost to the CEO of the city’s school system, Paul Vallas, who ran on a tough-on-crime message, and Brandon Johnson, a progressive Cook County commissioner who previously worked as a teacher and union organizer.

Also finishing out of the running was Rep. Jesus Garcia, the radical congressman who gave former Mayor Rahm Emanuel a scare in 2015 by forcing him into a runoff. “Chuey” got 13.7% on election day. Vallas finished first on election day with 33.8% while Johnson came in second with 20.3%.

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There are still about 40,000 mail-in ballots to count, but the results aren’t expected to change much.

Related: The Morning Briefing: Lori Lightfoot Goes From Historic First to Historic Loser

Progressives all over the country are asking what happened to Lightfoot. Elected in 2019, she checked all the boxes; lesbian, female, radical, and black. There was great excitement in Chicago’s powerful progressive community. The teacher’s union, AFSCME, and remnants of the Harold Washington coalition came together to put Lightfoot in the mayor’s office.

But some of the same things that radicals liked about her ended up dooming her.

Ninth Ward Alderman Anthony Beale says “She felt she could do and say anything to anybody without any repercussions. Not knowing that you need people in order to be effective.”

“She had a great opportunity. Everybody was excited, including myself. We all had high hopes for her,” Beale said. “But she came out of the gate and got power-drunk. Instead of governing as though people voted against the other person, she thought there was a mandate for her to do whatever she wanted to do. She became this totally vindictive person against everybody.”

The radical left talking points today are that Lightfoot was “dealt a bad hand” and had “bad timing.”

Chicago Sun-Times:

It does not explain why violent crime is up 40% since Lightfoot promised during her inaugural address to stop the “epidemic of gun violence that devastates families, shatters communities, holds children hostage to fear in their own homes” and leaves parents wondering “if Chicago is a place where they can continue to live and raise their children.”

It does not explain why Lightfoot has been such a disappointment to the lakefront voters who formed the base of her support in 2019. Lightfoot opposed the elected school board after saying she’d support it; failed to deliver the transparency she had promised; and broke her pledge to raise the real estate transfer tax on high-end home sales to create a dedicated funding source to reduce homelessness.

Bad timing also can’t explain Lightfoot’s inability to get along with people and a relationship with the City Council so contentious at least seven members of her own leadership team abandoned ship, endorsing other mayoral candidates.

In the end, no one much liked Lori Lightfoot. And it cost her dearly.

The runoff election on April 4 will pit the cop-supporting, tough-on-crime Paul Vallas against the Chicago Teacher’s Union stalking horse Brandon Johnson. Johnson was actually a lobbyist for the teachers, which would set up a fascinating dynamic when CTU contract negotiations roll around. It also shows just how powerful the teachers are in Chicago.

Paul Vallas is by no means a conservative but his pragmatism would be a big change from the painfully obvious wokeness of Lightfoot.

Vallas has been declared a heretic by the CTU, despite his credentials as former CEO of the public school system in Chicago. The CEO position was created by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 1995 and was a response to the miserable state of the public school system in the city. Vallas got test scores up and instituted other changes that marginally improved the schools.

For his part, Johnson wants to defund the police — take money from public safety and give it to “the people.” He’s been deliberately vague about that part of his platform for obvious reasons.

But it shows that crime and the continued plague of murder and mayhem in big cities wasn’t just a one- or two-election-cycle phenomenon. Democrats were hoping crime would fade into the background as time went on — a hope that Lori Lightfoot found to be false, much to her chagrin.

And with radical left, George Soros-backed prosecutors under fire in Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, and Philadelphia, the pushback by rational politicians and ordinary people will get a big boost if Chicagoans elect Vallas as their mayor.

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