Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot blamed racism and her gender for losing her re-election bid, as Chicagoans celebrated her defeat due to the rising crime during her tenure. The mayor injected race in the run-up to the election, telling the New Yorker, “I am a black woman — let’s not forget” and that certain folks don’t support black women in leadership roles. Amid criticism for the crime wave, homelessness, and other troubles plaguing the city, the Chicago Tribune called her loss a “political embarrassment” and noted that crime “skyrocketed” during her watch.
The mayor campaigned for re-election by arguing that crime was too high, promising to make Chicago the “safest big city in the country.” However, violent crime in the city increased by 40% since her inaugural address to end gun violence. Shootings and carjackings also skyrocketed. The Chicago Sun-Times attributed some of her woes to bad timing due to the pandemic and civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd.
Gianno Caldwell, a Fox News political analyst, applauded her defeat on Twitter, writing: “The @LoriLightfoot experiment is officially over. Thank you, CHICAGO.” Republicans also gloated over Lightfoot’s loss, with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeting: “Lori Lightfoot. Crime doesn’t pay.” Lightfoot became the first elected mayor to lose a re-election bid since 1983, when Jane Byrne, the city’s first female mayor, lost her Democratic primary.
Former head of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson will head to an April 4 runoff election to determine who will be the next mayor, as Lightfoot received only 16.4% of the vote. The city saw 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 nearly double the amount of theft incidents in 2021, and crime rates have skyrocketed by 61% in the first three weeks of this year, according to police.