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Lightfoot calls potential challenge from Chicago police union chief a ‘gift,’ but she has bigger problems

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It could be argued that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s dismissal of the possibility of the head of the city’s largest police union running against her in 2023 is a reflection of her overall attitude toward police. The remarkable thing here being that despite all the controversy she has ushered in, Lightfoot has two more years to go.

Lightfoot, the city’s first black female lesbian leader, scoffed at a potential mayoral candidacy from John Catanzara, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, when asked about it Thursday during a news conference, saying such a challenge would “be a gift.”

“It would be a gift,” the Democratic mayor said, holding her hand over her heart. “Let him run. I’d have a lot of fun with that.”

Catanzara has a history of clashing with Lightfoot, on issues like COVID-19 vaccine mandates and the rise in gun violence, according to Fox News. And while he will still lead the union that represents more than 17,000 current and former rank-and-file officers, Catanzara officially retired from the force on Wednesday.

He wrote “Finally!!! Let’s go Brandon,” in the remarks section of his retirement paperwork, WGN-TV reported.

In a video shared on YouTube, Catanzara explained his actions and stressed, “I made it very clear, my intention is to run for mayor.”

On that note, as a social media user pointed out, Chicago is a Democrat-heavy city, and the “LGB” phrase, which is code for insulting President Biden, may not be helpful to Catanzara’s political ambitions, such as they are.

The union chief’s retirement came amid a disciplinary hearing before the Chicago Police Board this week to determine if he should be fired, Fox News reported, noting that as an officer, Catanzara “amassed dozens of violations related to inflammatory social media posts and the alleged filing of false police reports.”

He called the hearing a “charade with a predetermined outcome,” according to WGN, adding, “There was never a possibility under God’s green earth that I was ever going to give this mayor to utter the words, ‘I fired him.’ It wasn’t going to happen.”

Lightfoot called Catanzara a “man of hate” in a statement released on Tuesday, claiming he was trying to avoid accountability.

“The evidence of his guilt was overwhelming as set forth in the hearing,” she said, “and he clearly sought to avoid the eventual reckoning by resigning under investigation and then divesting the Police Board of jurisdiction.”

Turns out, the mayor has her own problems, as about three-fifths of likely Chicago voters say “No” to another Lightfoot term, according to Fox32 Chicago.

Citing a recent survey, the affiliate reported that 68.4% of likely Hispanic voters, 61.5% of likely white voters and 49.4% of likely Black voters reject a second term for Lightfoot, while 33.7% of likely Black voters, 15.8% of likely Hispanic voters and 15.4% of likely white voters favor another term.

As for Catanzara, if he does run Fox32 said he will “likely be a severe underdog” because out of seven candidates tested in hypothetical head-to-head match ups, Catanzara is the only one she leads by a large margin. Lightfoot trails several of the candidates tested.

Tom Tillison

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