Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her bid for re-election this week, ending her historic run as the city’s first Black woman and first openly gay person to serve in the position.
She also holds the dubious distinction of being the first Chicago mayor in 40 years to lose a re-election bid.
In 1983 Jane Byrne, the city’s first female mayor, lost her primary to Harold Washington.
On the issue of crime, under Lightfoot, in 2021 Chicago recorded the most killings in 25 years.
And 3500+ shootings, 1,400 more than recorded in 2019 when she first took office.
When 63% of recently polled Chicagoans said they didn’t feel safe, the handwriting wasn’t on the wall…it plastered it.
But there’s more.
This outcome continues a trend in many American cities dominated by Democrats.
The rise in property crimes, increasing downtown crime and constant media coverage echo local races in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
In the midterm elections, Republicans had mixed success when 61% of Americans cited crime rates as a major electoral issue.
I get it.
But a political cudgel?
What about life?
Pardon my naivete, but must everything reek of politics?
In four years, Lori Lightfoot went from breakout political star to the divisive mayor of Chicago–the nation’s third-largest city–beset by a ravaging pandemic and skyrocketing crime.
Add a profound inability to build political coalitions and maintain relationships to the mix.
University of Illinois at Chicago professor emeritus Chris Mooney, described her as being “gratuitously pugnacious.”
“We like our Dalys and our Rahms. We complain about them but we say you’ve got to be tough to run the city of Chicago.
She’s got that but almost in a gratuitous way.
She picks fights for reasons unknown to most people.”
Veteran political consultant Delmarie Cobb espoused the notion that Lightfoot should have made an effort to lose her overly defensive approach to criticism, particularly over public safety.
Explaining the issues more clearly might have helped.
“Instead,” Cobb remarked, “it’s, ‘I’m going to force-feed you into acknowledging that I’ve done a good job.’”
Only Trump got away with that hokum.
For too long.
And not forever.
As for Lightfoot, over the past 4 years, a staunch defensive response to the mildest of criticism along with her scorched-earth approach to those who questioned her decision-making–deeply rooted in an all-encompassing insecurity–spelled doom for her.
She also became famous for interjecting race into brewing controversies, catching flak from even her Black supporters.
When the chief of detectives disagreed with her on a charging decision, she went public, suggesting he cared more about white residents in Beverly than Black West Siders.
In 2021, she declared that she’d only engage non-white journalists in interviews celebrating her two-year anniversary.
Whites screeched discrimination; journalists of color cited her desire to use them as political pawns.
Perhaps a most telling remark came during the 2020 presidential election.
Lightfoot said she would endorse neither Elizabeth Warren nor Bernie Sanders.
Apparently, they didn’t talk to her during the 2019 Chicago Teachers Union strike.
“They were very supportive of the Chicago Teachers Unions strike but didn’t feel it was necessary to talk to the new black LGBTQ mayor” she said.
There you have it.
And here it is again.
“Look, I’m 60 years old, I’m not going to change who I am.”
All well and good.
Then, I guess your exit from politics Lori, is aptly timed.
Because this is not about skin color or sexuality.
It’s about thin skin, insecurity, ego and poor judgment.
[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in March 2023.]