Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot failed to make the run-off in the second city’s Democratic primary Tuesday night, limiting her to one term in office that is soon to expire. While she was one of nine candidates in a crowded field, her performance in office coupled with Chicago’s skyrocketing crime were likely the decisive factors, analysts say.
Lightfoot is the first Chicago mayor in forty years not to win a second term.
Coming into office in 2019, Lightfoot pledged to undo the “systemic racism” that her campaign blamed for many of the city’s ills.
Yet her debut was in part overshadowed by the saga of actor Jussie Smollett, who concocted a story about being beat up and nearly lynched on Chicago streets by two “MAGA supporters,” who ended up being Nigerians he had paid to fake a racist attack.
She quickly made powerful enemies, including the police and teachers’ unions. At the same time, lawlessness in the city’s streets swelled:
“The last day of May 2020 was a Sunday,” native Chicagoan journalist Matt Rosenberg recalled in his book “What Next, Chicago?” “National Guard troops were protecting downtown Chicago as crowds gathered. Then business districts were attacked by bands of organized criminals. Some backed up large rented trucks for looting. Others removed and busted open ATMs. Some raided pharmacies for prescription drugs.”
Last year saw crime statistics hit their peak with the most crime Chicago has seen to date, while 2021 was the deadliest year Chicago has seen in a quarter-century.
Many mayors face crises, but the key to their surviving them often comes down to a public sense they are trying to make a difference.
Lightfoot, by contrast, often blamed others for the city’s woes.
In a recent interview with The New Yorker, Lightfoot suggested that many voters oppose her because she’s a black woman in power.
Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson will now compete in an April 4th run-off to determine which man will be Chicago’s next mayor.