So, here’s what we’ve learned from what basically turned out to be yesterday’s Second City mayoral primary:
1. Chicago will have its first black female mayor!
And the Windy City will play host their first female gay black mayor if Lightfoot wins the runoff which, considering her current momentum, looks far more likely than not. And that’s really kind of cool!
Perhaps being a triple minority has actually prepared her for the absurd potential challenges ahead!
2. I wuz wrong!
First, I rather offhandedly dismissed Lightfoot outright in a previous column. And second, despite the fact that she was moving up in some polls, none of them predicted she’d come out on top. Nary a pundit picked her to pull away from the pack either.
I certainly wouldn’t have put any money on her.
All I can say is, she must’ve had one hell of a ground game because, while Daley, Mendoza, Joyce, Preckwinkle, and Chico beamed directly through my home-office TV screen on a regular basis, Ms. Lightfoot was nowhere to be seen.
And if she has the kind of ground game I suspect, she’s got this thing.
3. Political polling is a dying art
First Donald Trump and now this? The 2016 excuse was so many voters refused to admit they were supporting the President, it skewed the numbers. But how do you explain that even the most favorable poll had Lightfoot in a semi-distant third place?
“If the answer is that polling is dying, then why,” you ask? I wish I could tell you!
It could be that Gallup and their compatriots are finding it increasingly difficult to access a real slice of the voter universe. With those incessant offshore telemarketers targeting our cell phones to the tune of ten calls a day, no one picks up for unknown callers anymore. And cellphones will soon make landlines extinct.
Or perhaps the political winds shift so quickly in our lightspeed news cycle that no pollster could possibly keep up.
Unless they can come up with some sort of newer more accurate methodology, political polling will slowly go the way of the PDA.
4. The Daley Dynasty is done!
You can’t say the voters rejected him outright – coming in third in a field of 14 candidates is no small feat – and I correctly predicted that he and Ms. Preckwinkle would finish in a virtual dead heat. But, unless there’s an untoward blizzard, most Chicago mayors get at least two terms, which means the younger Daley will be 78 before he gets another shot.
And that ain’t no job for a 78-year-old.
I remain steadfast in my claim that he was the best candidate, but 2019 was certainly not the year to bear that surname. Maybe Chicago really is somewhat ready for reform!
I have to say that one of the more fascinating facets of my existence is to have observed the Daley dynasty from almost the beginning. It will never happen again anywhere. I’m sure Mike and Slats will hoist few cold ones in memory of what was at that underworld Billy Goat Tavern this evening. (You didn’t think columnists don’t go to Heaven, did you?)
5. Ed Burke won?
Maybe Chicago ain’t ready for reform, after all! With those federal attempted extortion charges failing to put as much as a dent in him, Burke easily dispatched two pretenders despite Chuy Garcia’s vast support for one of them.
In an even more bizarre twist, while the eminently charismatic Susana Mendoza’s close relationships with Burke and wire-wearing Alderman Danny Solis dropped her into fourth place, her mentor beat his two challengers without breaking a sweat.
So, what I really want to know is, how can Chicago put a gay black female prosecutor over the mayoral top, but reelect an alderman who’s been the very face of Chicago Machine corruption for 50 years? I wasn’t foolish enough to predict he’d lose, but yikes!
6. Mendoza will never be more than Comptroller
Had Hispanics actually voted, she would’ve won, but no one’s figured out how to get them to go to a polling place quite yet.
Watching her rise to the top has been a very compelling proposition, and if anyone can survive this bump in the electoral road, she can. But right now, it looks like Illinois Comptroller will be the pinnacle of her political career.
She’ll likely have that job as long as she wants it, but we all know she wants more. The moral of that story is, if you live by the Machine sword, you can just as easily die by it. Guilt by association can be a powerful, if fickle, thing.
6. The Ricketts children are every bit as tone deaf as their father!
Tiring of what they deemed to be “intractable” aldermen, the Ricketts family ran one of the loudest and silliest whisper campaigns I’ve ever seen. C’mon! “Terrible Tunney?” A third-grader could’ve come up with something better than that!
Completely failing to grasp the anti-Cub corporate steamroller timbre of that 44th Wrigleyville Ward, incumbent Tom Tunney topped that three-candidate field with a whopping 64 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, the Ricketts’ anointed hopeful received just 11 percent which, as the only female in the race, should have been a statistical impossibility.
So now the Ricketts family will have to contend with:
- A new mayor that doesn’t owe them or the Cubs anything
- A new black mayor that won’t be amused by their father’s racist email musings
- An alderman with a clear mandate to stand in their way every step of the way
Money clearly doesn’t mitigate stupidity!
7. Joe Moore lost!!??
That was the biggest surprise of the night!
But before we continue, for purposes of full disclosure, Joe was one of my favorite Evanston Township High School friends and I’m really sad to see him go. Succeeding the legendary David Orr, he’s been the most consistent reform alderman in recent Chicago history.
But facts are facts, and 49th Ward challenger Maria Hadden didn’t just beat him, she mopped the floor with him. I can’t remember the last time I watched a political novice beat a six-term incumbent by 28 points. Yikes!
The Trib chalked his defeat up to those lakefront liberals rebelling against the typically independent Moore sidling up to Rahm Emanuel. But they’re wrong! I lived in the 49th for eight long years and to say it’s “diverse” would be a massive misnomer. It is so eclectic that the political tone shifts from building to building.
Moore’s first problem is that Hadden is a black woman in what is clearly turning out to the year of the black woman. And whenever an incumbent loses by that margin, it typically means they started taking the office for granted. So, I’d bet my bottom dollar that Hadden outworked Joe by that same spread.
A more progressive candidate beat a progressive candidate? That also appears to be a new political phenomenon.
8. Marty Quinn destroyed David Krupa
This was the least surprising Tuesday turn of events!
Despite reaping millions of dollars in free press coverage documenting his abuse at the hands of the Madigan Machine, David Krupa went down in the kind of 72-point electoral flames that would make Michael Dukakis laugh out loud.
Like I said before, no blatant Trump support will EVER prevail in the City That Works.
9. Paul Vallas needs to call it quits
Our former CEO of Chicago Public Schools finished a very disappointing ninth with just 5.5 percent of the mayoral vote.
Though he’s one of the few candidates who always put the voters first, as the late, great Cubs Manager Leo Durocher once kinda said, “Chicago and Illinois aren’t ready for nice guys.” And this certainly wasn’t the year of the nice old white guy, either.
I wouldn’t count him out because you’ll see his Paul’s picture directly adjacent to the dictionary definition of “indomitable,” but at 65, all those losses must be taking their toll. You gave it your best shot Paul!
As far our impending Kane County municipal races go, those Aurora and Elgin hopefuls really oughtta take note of the lessons to be learned. They’re a little tough to ferret out, but, trust me, they’re there! Though I will continue to say it’s more of a tornado than a tsunami – how do you explain Ed Burke – but as those great philosophers The Scorpions once intoned, the political winds are most certainly changing.