The Chicago media fired off a number of obituaries for Lori Lightfoot’s political career after she lost her reelection campaign for mayor in a landslide.
The Chicago Tribune called Lightfoot’s loss a “political embarrassment unlike any suffered by a sitting mayor seeking reelection since Jane Byrne — the first and only other female mayor of Chicago — lost the 1983 Democratic primary to Harold Washington.” Lightfoot failed to advance to a runoff out of a crowded Democratic primary in a stinging rebuke of her mayorship, which saw her approval ratings nosedive amid rampant crime concerns and a series of public relations fiascos.
More than 80 percent of Democratic voters cast their ballots for other candidates. Chicago Public Schools CEO and city budget director Paul Vallas will face off against Cook County Board of Commissioners member Brandon Johnson in the April 4 runoff.
The Tribune, which explained how “Lori Lightfoot went from breakout political star to divisive mayor” of Chicago, argued that crime “skyrocketed” on her watch.
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“Lightfoot campaigned for mayor in 2019 by arguing crime was too high, saying she wanted to make Chicago the ‘safest big city in the country,’” the Tribune explained.
“But homicides, mostly from gun violence, spiked dramatically in 2020 and 2021 from 500 murders in 2019 to 776 and 804 in the next two years, respectively. Shootings and carjackings also skyrocketed.”
But more fundamentally than that, one critic said that Lightfoot didn’t do enough to make herself “into a likable person.”
The Chicago Sun-Times also issued an analysis of how “Lightfoot went from political rock star to rock bottom.”
Chicago Sun-Times reporter Fran Spielman gave some cover for Lightfoot’s defeat, but said that even “the pandemic,” “civil unrest triggered by the murder of George Floyd and the violent crime wave after those demonstrations” was not sufficient excuse.
It was “the ultimate political humiliation,” according to Spielman, because Lightfoot was “not only denied a second term” as incumbent mayor, “[s]he couldn’t even make it into the runoff.”
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“[B]ad timing is too simple to explain her stunning political downfall,” Spielman wrote.
One columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, Mary Mitchell, penned a defense for Lightfoot after the incumbent mayor — the first Black woman and openly gay person to run the city — was denied a second term.
Mitchell acknowledged that crime was a “problem” in Chicago, but wrote that Lightfoot deserved more time to make good on her promises.
“Did anyone expect Lightfoot to end the city’s crime problem in four years?” she asked.
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Mitchell also claimed that Lightfoot’s defeat “boiled down to the numbers” of her political challengers.
“With five Black males, one white male, one Latino male and another Black woman trying to unseat Lightfoot, it is clear the progress that brought together a coalition to elect Harold Washington as the city’s first Black mayor in 1983 has been abandoned.”
Lightfoot couldn’t escape mockery on Twitter for contending that Chicago was a “safer, more equitable city” after her time in office.
“You’ve been a disaster. Goodbye,” radio host Jason Rantz wrote.
Fox News’ Brandon Gillespie contributed to this report.
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