Last night as I listened to one candidate after another concede defeat in the Chicago mayoral election, I started to write a blog about how those speeches were gracious and civil. They were a breath of fresh air after months of contentiousness among and between some of the top candidates. Lori Lightfoot was also gracious and humble when it became obvious that she was the top vote-getter. I began to think that it was so pleasant when political foes actually were positive in defeat.
Then along came Toni Preckwinkle.
With uncharacteristic warmth, she started her acknowledgments of her campaign team and supporters. I was touched when she indicated that she was in the race for her grandchildren’s future. All was going well until she changed her tone and took a major swipe at her new run-off opponent, Lori Lightfoot.
What a turnoff! Would it really have been too much to expect that Toni waits until today to renew baring her claws at her opponent? Why spoil the positive mood set by the other candidates?
And then I remembered that this was the same Toni Preckwinkle who had tried to get Lori Lightfoot kicked off the ballot at the beginning of her campaign, a campaign she quickly entered once she knew Rahm Emanuel would not be running for re-election. It reminded me of the shenanigans the former chairman of the Democrat National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, tried to pull off in 2016 to get Bernie Sanders kicked off the ballot in order to promote Hillary Clinton. And we all know how that turned out – Schultz lost her position and Hillary lost the election.
I was turned off by Preckwinkle’s smug and patronizing statements touting her superior credentials for the mayor’s position. News flash: Arguably Hillary Clinton had far superior credentials to become President of the United States than Donald Trump, but her inability to connect with voters in places and states where she needed votes demonstrated that there wasn’t consensus on this issue.
Another factor that is a turn-off about Toni Preckwinkle is that she is only loyal to herself. She had no problem throwing long serving 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke under the bus when he became embroiled in controversy late last year. How disingenuous of her to claim they weren’t that close when he had given her a large sum of money for her campaign and she had hired his son for a six-figure government position. Perhaps she is the kind of politician who believes in keeping one’s friends close, and enemies even closer. No matter, this episode speaks directly to Toni’s character and for many of us, character still counts.
I am excited that Lori Lightfoot is on the ballot. Her candidacy represents change, new energy, and transparency, all of which are sorely needed in Chicago politics. Moreover, I am delighted that Chicago voters had the courage to support an openly gay black woman who is interracially married. How great is that? I am proud that Chicago voters are leading the way to a more racially and gender inclusive city.