Chicago, IL

Will Lightfoot Lose Re-election for Chicago Mayor Without Even Making it Into the Runoffs?

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Chicago's first gay, black, female mayor may be ousted before the runoffs losing her bid for re-election
Photo byPhil Roeder/flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Mayor Lori Lightfoot faces an uncertain future in the first round of the 2023 Chicago mayoral election. According to the latest poll, Paul Vallas is leading in the race with Lori Lightfoot and Brandon Johnson following closely behind. This could signal a difficult road ahead for Lightfoot if the numbers remain the same until Election Day. While Lightfoot is one of five polling in the double digits, the poll suggests that she would lose a runoff against the other four, with Vallas beating her by the greatest margin.

In an effort to decrease his lead, Lightfoot has accused Vallas of "blowing the ultimate dog whistle" when he told a Southwest Side crowd that his "whole campaign is about taking back our city, pure and simple". In politics, "blowing a dog whistle" is a term used to describe when politicians use coded or subtle language to appeal to certain groups or values without overtly stating their beliefs.

This type of language can be used to make statements that are not blatantly offensive but still sway people to a certain agenda. For example, a politician may use language to suggest that certain immigrants or minorities are a drain on society without explicitly stating it. By blowing a dog whistle, politicians can often get away with making discriminatory statements without directly saying anything inflammatory or offensive.

Lightfoot has been the 56th Mayor of Chicago since assuming office following her historic election and has undertaken an ambitious agenda of expanding opportunity and inclusive economic growth across Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. Despite this however, it appears that the current polls in the Chicago mayoral race suggest that Paul Vallas may be solidifying his frontrunner status, potentially making it difficult for Lightfoot to win a possible runoff against him.

Should no candidate win a majority of votes next week, a likely outcome considering the number of people running and the current split voter field, the top two candidates will compete in a runoff. In a poll conducted earlier this month, Lightfoot was found to be the only mayoral candidate who had a higher unfavorable rating than a favorable one, with a rating of -10 percent. The same poll showed that Vallas' rating was +31%, Wilson's was +33 percent, Garcia's was + 29 percent and Johnson had a rating of +22 percent.

As Lightfoot fights for her political future, the controversies and criticism that characterized much of her first term are leaving her largely defenselss. Many have denounced her policies, in particular those involving the Chicago police force, safety, the public school system and teacher salaries, and the way in which she responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. These objections to the manner in which Lightfoot has governed, is increasing the potential that she will be defeated in the first round of the election.

The first round of voting for the 2023 Chicago elections will occur on Tuesday, February 28, 2023. Should no candidate receive a majority, which is almost guaranteed this election, the two candidates receiving the most votes will compete in a runoff elecgtion on April, 4, 2023. In addition to the position of Chicago Mayor, elections this year will take place for the 50 members of of the Chicago City Council, the 66 members of the new police District Councils, City Treasurer, and City Clerk.

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Chicago, IL

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