By Yaron Steinbuch
(MAINNEWS) – Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot blamed racism and her gender for her landslide defeat in her re-election bid, as Chicagoans weary of the rising crime on her watch celebrated her fall from “political rock star to rock bottom.”
“I’m a black woman in America. Of course,” she replied when asked by a reporter if she had been treated unfairly.
But she called being Chicago’s mayor “the honor of a lifetime.”
“Regardless of tonight’s outcome, we fought the right fights and we put this city on a better path,” Lightfoot said, as she urged her fellow mayors around the US not to fear being bold.
Amid heavy criticism for the crime wave, homelessness and other troubles plaguing the city, the mayor had also injected race into the run-up to the election.
“I am a black woman — let’s not forget,” Lightfoot, 60, told the New Yorker in a piece that ran Saturday. “Certain folks, frankly, don’t support us in leadership roles.”
The Chicago Tribune called her loss a “political embarrassment” and argued that crime “skyrocketed” on her watch.
“Lightfoot campaigned for mayor in 2019 by arguing crime was too high, saying she wanted to make Chicago the ‘safest big city in the country,’” the Tribune said in its analysis of how she went from “political rock star to rock bottom.”
“But homicides, mostly from gun violence, spiked dramatically in 2020 and 2021 from 500 murders in 2019 to 776 and 804 in the next two years, respectively. Shootings and carjackings also skyrocketed.”
Violent crime in the city spiked by 40% since she promised during her inaugural address to end the “epidemic of gun violence that devastates families, shatters communities, holds children hostage to fear in their own homes,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The paper attributed some of her woes to bad timing — due to the pandemic and civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.
“She almost embraced playing the heavy, shutting down the lakefront and admonishing people to stay home. It played into her dictatorial personality, inspiring an avalanche of hysterical memes the mayor was smart enough to embrace,” the paper said.
Chicago City Alderman Anthony Beale said that for Lightfoot, it was “‘My way or the highway’ coming out of the gate.”
“Trying to destroy people instead of trying to work with people. Politics is a game of addition. It’s not a game of subtraction. All she did was subtract from Day One,” Beale told the Sun-Times.
“Coming out of the gate at inauguration, she tried to embarrass the entire City Council as being this corrupt body, and she was here to save the day. But it turns out she was the least transparent, least productive, least cooperative administration I have ever seen in my life.”
Diana Dejacimo, who was robbed at gunpoint in December in the upscale neighborhood of Lincoln Park, said good riddance.
“I believe that people have just had enough,” Dejacimo said Wednesday morning on “Fox & Friends First.” “My message has been, ‘Go out and change.’ Regime change is the only way we’re going to fix this, and I think this was a loud and clear message that this woke agenda is not working for Chicago.”
Dejacimo said the crime surge was her prime concern in casting her vote.
“We have two very different approaches now of the two guys that are having the runoff,” she said. “One is very much police protection and support the police and the other one is more of a defund the police and self-rule. So we’ll see how it turns out, but I’m glad the city spoke out and said no more Lori Lightfoot.”
Meanwhile, business owner Sam Sanchez said the crime wave was hurting the city’s economy and suggested that Lightfoot’s loss will spur additional investment.
“We’re looking for businesses to come back,” Sanchez said on the show. “We’re headed in the right direction… the idea of coming to the city and being afraid should not be the reason you don’t come in.
“We definitely have to address the prosecution and accountability of the crime,” he added.
Gianno Caldwell, a Fox News political analyst whose brother was killed in Chicago last summer, applauded her defeat.
“The @LoriLightfoot experiment is officially over. Thank you, CHICAGO,” he wrote on Twitter.
Attorney and Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley also chimed in, writing: “There is hope for my home city yet. Lori Lightfoot is out. The greatest potential improvement for the city since 1900 when the direction of the Chicago river was reversed.”
Lightfoot — the first black woman and first openly gay person to lead Chicago — has became the city’s first elected mayor to lose a re-election bid since 1983, when Jane Byrne, the city’s first female mayor, lost her Democratic primary.
“The same forces that didn’t want Harold Washington to succeed, they’re still here,” she told the New Yorker, referring to the Democrat who was elected that year.
“The last time we had an African American mayor in power was 40 years ago. It’s important for us not to repeat history,” she added.
On Tuesday, Lightfoot received only 16.4% of the vote, finishing behind former head of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson.
Vallas, who won 35% of the vote, and Johnson, who got 20.2%, will head to an April 4 runoff election to determine who will be the next mayor.
Lightfoot’s demise comes after the Windy City recorded more than 800 murders in 2021, the most in a quarter-century.
The homicide rate dropped 14% in 2022 but remained nearly 40% higher than in 2019.
The city also saw more than 20,000 cases of theft in 2022, nearly double the amount of 2021, according to the police department’s end-of-year report.
In the first three weeks of this year, crime rates have skyrocketed by 61% compared to last year, according to police.
Republicans gloated over Lightfoot’s loss, with US Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeting: “Lori Lightfoot. Crime doesn’t pay.”
Former Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones (R-Brunswick) wrote: “Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot, just got the FOOT! Other Democrat mayors with run-away crime in your cities, take note. Even liberals are tired of being unsafe.”
And former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who clashed with Lightfoot while serving in the Trump administration, also cheered her defeat.
“Perhaps she should have woken up when I referred to her as the ‘derelict mayor of Chicago’ from the White House podium for ignoring victims of crime in her city!” she tweeted. “Instead, she said ‘Hey, Karen. Watch your mouth.’”