Monday, February 25, 2019

Chicago gets to see what real electoral competition looks like come Tuesday

Tuesday is Election Day, and we’re finally going to get a clue as to whom our city’s next mayor will be.
MENDOZA: A mayoral preference

This is a particularly unusual election cycle (“the most important election cycle in decades,” says the Chicago Tribune) in that we have real competitive candidates. We don’t have a clue as to who will win.

BECAUSE WE USUALLY GET a case of a frontrunner who is so clearly the establishment favorite running against another person or two – one of whom may be the choice of idealists but who really doesn’t have a chance of achieving political victory.

It’s almost like our municipal elections are a done deal before the candidates even file for slots on the ballot.

This time is different!

It’s all about the 14 candidates who are of varying levels of qualifications. I’m sure there are some people who think the real problem is that we’re letting just anybody get on the ballot, creating such a mass of candidates that even now, some people still don’t have a clue who they’ll vote for.

IT MAY WELL be that some people won’t make up their minds until they literally set foot in the voting booth. There also will be many who will make their choice – then wind up regretting it as the stupidest thing they ever did.
Will Cook Co. 'mayor' become 'Boss Toni?'

So who’s going to win? I really don’t have a clue.

I’m really not comfortable saying who the “top two” candidates will be who would qualify for an April 2 run-off election – which will have the feel of a more conventional election in that the number of choices are limited.

Even the pundit predictions are all over the place. I know I’ve already written that the campaigns of one-time White House chief of staff William Daley and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle could wind up as the “top two” picks, creating a brawl giving an establishment and a progressive-leaning candidate a chance to face off.

BUT THEN AGAIN, this election fight could turn out to be so bizarre that the predictable top two will manage to fall short.
Could we get Mayor Daley III?

What happens if the candidacy of former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot manages to catch on just enough that she can overcome what some originally thought would be the inevitable ascension of Preckwinkle to the mayoral post?

Then again, there also once were people who thought that this would be a year of politically powerful women – with Preckwinkle and Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza managing to create a historic brawl. While knocking the third coming of a “Mayor Daley” out of the race altogether.

We also have those people who think that Willie Wilson (who turned ownership of McDonald’s franchises in inner city neighborhoods into a financial fortune) is a colorful enough character that they’d like to see him remain in the running after Tuesday.

PERSONALLY, I’D BE inclined to support the Mendoza candidacy – in part as a gesture of increased political empowerment of the growing Latino population in Chicago. I think it would be an excellent “up yours” gesture for Chicago to pick her at a time when the supporters of this Age of Trump would want us to think that people of Latino ethnic origins (she’s of Mexican-American background) as the ultimate political losers.
LIGHTFOOT: Upset in the making?

We’ll see, however, what happens once the votes are counted Tuesday and we have to figure out how long it will take to count the absentee ballots to see if the election is so close that it literally will come down to counting EVERY SINGLE VOTE.

Something that I’m sure many political watchers in Chicago will find to be a bizarre experience. It ain’t supposed to be that close – they’ll think.

While they’re probably wondering why all municipal elections can’t be like the one for city clerk – where incumbent Anna Valencia managed to get all of her challengers knocked off the ballot outright!


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