Former Police Board President Lori Lightfoot is expected to officially announce today that she's joining a long list of candidates, including several other African-American candidates and progressives, running for Mayor of Chicago.
According to Politico's Natasha Korecki, Lightfoot has already brought on a powerhouse support team including:
Media Consultants - Snyder Pickerill Media Group. Ken Snyder and Terrie Pickerill are Chicago-based national political strategists who did work with the likes of U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
The group also handled three major mayoral races: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.
Pollster - Jason McGrath, of GBA Strategies, who's done work with Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos.
Finance Director - Gina Natale worked as Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's finance director from 2010-2014 and recently worked for the League of Conservation Voters in Washington D.C.
Direct Mail - Adnaan Muslim of Deliver Strategies - Longtime lead SEIU Local 1 consultant on aldermanic campaigns. Firm's most recently worked on successful primaries for Jesus Chuy García, Alma Anaya, Bridget Degnan, and Aaron Ortiz. And for other successful mayoral campaigns including mayors Keisha Lance Bottoms, Toni Harp, Sly James, Michael Nutter and Stephane Miner.I'll leave it to you to parse the connections here to high-powered city Democrats. But the point is, Lightfoot isn't stepping lightly into this battle. While neither she nor any of the other candidates can match the size of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's war chest dollar-for-dollar, she apparently can raise enough to be respectable in that area and possibly find a pathway to victory.
Lightfoot, the only openly gay candidate in the race, says she's running a campaign based on the need for economic justice and police reform.
According to the Tribune:
Although she could struggle to find a base of support, Lightfoot indicated she plans to run as a progressive, a lane occupied in the 2015 campaign by Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who pushed Emanuel into the city’s first mayoral runoff election. Lightfoot said she’ll work to promote neighborhood redevelopment, rebuild neighborhood schools and back Democratic governor nominee J.B. Pritzker’s push for a graduated income tax.She notes that a recent study showed that on the West Side, the life expectancy plummets to 69 years, compared with 85 years for someone living in the Loop, seven “L” stops away. She lauded a group called West Side United, which she said came up with a plan to “significantly improve the quality of life and the life expectancy in those neighborhoods.”
In a Sun-Times interview, she came out against Rahm's planned $95M police academy, which she calls "an edifice to policing in the middle of one of the most economically distressed neighborhoods in our city."
She's also critical of the way the mayor has closed all the high schools in Englewood as well as National Teachers Academy (NTA), and blames Emanuel for hiring Barbara Byrd-Bennett as schools CEO without doing the diligence to know her track record as a "crook...trying to line her personal pocket."
If she pursues this line of attack, she will need a strategy that directs blows not only at the mayor, but at Paul Vallas as well. Vallas, Mayor Daley's former schools CEO, has a similar track record of school closings and replacing closed public schools with privately-run charters. He also is the former partner of Gary Solomon, Byrd-Bennett's accomplice. Going after Vallas as well as Rahm and former top-cop Garry McCarthy will be a necessary piece of campaign strategy for Team Lightfoot if they are to get her into a runoff with the mayor.
The big question remains: Can Lightfoot be the candidate who can finally rally enough unified support from progressives, unions, and within black and Latino communities to elevate herself from the pack and give Rahm a run for his money? Definitely possible.
We'll be talking about the upcoming mayor's race and more Chicago politics tomorrow on Hitting Left with another potential mayoral candidate, Ra Joy. Tune in at 11am CT on WLPN 105.5 FM Streaming at www.lumpenradio.com. Download the app Podcast on iTunes.