In a truly historic election for the City of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle, after garnering 17 and 16 percent respectively, will head to a runoff election on April 2.
The election’s importance stems from the fact that the new mayor will be an African-American woman, no matter who wins. Chicago has had one African-American mayor before, Harold Washington.
Neither Preckwinkle nor Lightfoot were projected to make it to runoff, with many experts expecting Bill Daley and Susanna Mendoza as the two winners.
“There was a pretty clear preference for candidates that looked like change,” Pete Giangreco, a longtime political consultant, said.
Lightfoot ran on a message of change, using her career as a reformer both in the private sector and at the city level to promote the theme.
“Lightfoot seems to be a refreshing newcomer,” senior Mollie Hartenstein said. “She’s got a lot of experience in the Chicago political scene without being directly elected.”
On a slightly different note, Preckwinkle raised herself as an established politician who would have the experience and relationships necessary to get things done.
“Preckwinkle is definitely the establishment candidate,” Hartenstein said. “She knows what she’s doing, but it’s bad because it means she carries with her the baggage of the Democratic Party in Cook County.”
Some might say Lightfoot’s campaign took a boost from the sudden indictment of alderman Ed Burke, who was caught up in an FBI investigation. The federal accusations of corruption led many to look towards candidates from outside the political machine.
“Lori showed up at the perfect moment,” Giangreco said. “If the FBI had sat on the case another six months, this election may have come out differently.”
A narrative of low turnout on election day ended up being false, with almost 80,000 more votes being cast than the 2015 election.
In the closing weeks, both candidates will need to hunker down on their positions, and work the masses in an effort to get their message out.
Based off of her explosive win in the first round of the election, she very well may carry the momentum through to the runoff. But Preckwinkle isn’t one to easily be passed, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to anybody to see another close set of numbers come April 2.