Identity politics have taken center stage in the final days of the Chicago Mayoral race and for incumbent Lori Lightfoot that meant playing the race card.
With current polling showing Lightfoot trailing Democratic rival Paul Vallas in a congested field, likely to force a runoff following the February 28 election, the first-term mayor stoked racial tension at a Saturday rally. Calling out Vallas and Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), the only white and Hispanic candidates in the running respectively, Lightfoot urged the predominantly black populous of Chicago’s South Side to consider her as the only black candidate as voting otherwise could propel a non-black candidate to victory.
“Any vote coming from the South Side for somebody not named Lightfoot is a vote for Chuy Garcia or Paul Vallas,” she railed. “If you want them controlling your fate and your destiny, then stay home. Then don’t vote. But we’ve got to do better.”
Former Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) who joined her at the rally encouraged voters to help the mayor “keep the seat.”
García was quick to decry Lightfoot for her perceived racism and shared video of her comment with the caption, “This is disqualifying rhetoric for anyone hoping to lead a Chicago that is a multiracial and multiethnic city. We need unity not division.”
This is disqualifying rhetoric for anyone hoping to lead a Chicago that is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic city. We need unity not division. https://t.co/Cr6AexESLs
— Jesús “Chuy” García (@ChuyChicago) February 18, 2023
According to a Victory Research poll conducted from Feb. 12 – 15, Garcia is running in fourth place just shy of 14 percent behind third place Brandon Johnson around 16 percent, second place Lightfoot with just over 17 percent and lead candidate Vallas just under 23 percent.
Rising crime has remained a central focus of the race as has been frequently documented throughout Lightfoot’s tenure, something she seems all-too willing to ignore as concerned residents called out her dancing in the streets while campaigning after 2,278 homicides had taken place since she took office; more than 40 in January 2023 alone. Additionally, at around 800 homicides in 2021, Chicago saw a 25-year high under Lightfoot’s leadership.
Vallas, who had earned the endorsement of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, has leaned into associating himself with first responders and did so again Saturday sharing images from an Englewood campaign stop stating, “I was honored to meet with members of the Englewood First Responders today. These young men work to prevent gun violence in their neighborhood. As Mayor, I will work with the CPD and community groups to enhance community policing, reduce crime and end our public safety crisis.”
I was honored to meet with members of the Englewood First Responders today. These young men work to prevent gun violence in their neighborhood. As Mayor, I will work with the CPD and community groups to enhance community policing, reduce crime and end our public safety crisis. pic.twitter.com/1XVOuMWW5H
— Paul Vallas (@PaulVallas) February 19, 2023
Vallas also shot down claims from Lightfoot that she was helping build a thriving business community in Chicago as his campaign told the Wall Street Journal, “While Lori Lightfoot makes a lot of bold claims, she ignores the reality that businesses are being driven out of the city.”
That included Boeing Co. which announced in May 2022 that it was relocating to Arlington, VA.
Overall, crime in Chicago was up 58 percent thus far in 2023 over the year prior, likely contributing to Victory Research pollster Rod McCulloch’s finding that “a majority of voters, more than 54%, say they wouldn’t vote for her under any circumstances.”
“I don’t believe the mayor is in the front running right now,” he told ABC7, “but I do think that she’s viable to be in the runoff. I do believe that. And people who discount her, do so at their own peril.”
Lightfoot’s incendiary remarks also included her religiously charged assertion, “We need the South Side to come like a mighty roar to the polls. We don’t need to be the Israelites wandering in the desert for 30 years. We need to get to the promised land right now, right here, and we won’t get there if you don’t vote.”
Republished with permission from American Wire News Service
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