Tuesday, Chicagoans will choose between two visions of the city’s future: Progressive criminal justice reform or tough on crime?
When Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost this year’s primary election, it was a historic milestone for the Windy City. Rarely has an incumbent Chicago Mayor been forced out of a second term by voters and members of their own party.
Over the past decades, some incumbent Chicago Mayors have refused to seek reelection, former mayor Rahm Emanuel for one. Citing various reasons — though never out of concern they won’t win — a couple of Chicago Mayors have gracefully bowed out in the recent past. A vanishingly small number have been defeated in primary challenges.
Since Republican politicians in Chicago are as rare as dodo birds, and about as successful, all political dustups and showdowns in Chicago are Democratic Party in nature. The 2023 race for mayor has been no exception. Throughout the campaign season, political attack ads and counter-attack ads have inundated the airwaves of Chicago and its environs.
This election has already been one for the record books, but that isn’t unusual in Chicago.
The election of Lori Lightfoot in 2019 was historic; Mayor Lightfoot will always be remembered as the first Black, female, openly gay Mayor Chicago ever had.
Unfortunately for her legacy, Lightfoot will also go down in history as a failed one-term Chicago Mayor who fell spectacularly from sweeping the campaign board on a wave of popular support in 2019 to barely scraping 17% of the vote in 2023.
During last month’s primary, Lightfoot failed to advance in the runoff, coming in third.
Her two main challengers — Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas — have, over the years in fits and starts, been supportive of Lightfoot. After losing to Lori Lightfoot in the 2019 primary, Paul Vallas cheerfully threw all his support behind her mayoral campaign, undoubtedly helping push it over the finish line to victory.
But Vallas doesn’t support Lightfoot any longer. In recent years, the longtime Chicago politician and former Chicago Public Schools official has made no secret of his disappointment in Lightfoot’s performance as Mayor.