Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot captured just 17% of the vote in the city’s primary, a stunning defeat for an incumbent. Clearly, removing three Columbus statues did not sway voters.
By Truby Chiaviello, PRIMO Magazine
Oppose Columbus at your peril.
That’s the key message in the stunning reelection defeat of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Celebrated as the first openly gay, first Black woman to head the city of Chicago, Lightfoot was praised as a history-making figure.
Well, she has made history again: She is the first incumbent mayor in Chicago in 40 years to lose reelection.
Mayor Lightfoot lost big on February 28th, coming in third with only 88,046 votes behind challengers Paul Vallas, 173,753 votes, and Brandon Johnson, 104,485 votes. Since the top two candidates did not register more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election is to be held on April 4th between Vallas, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, and Johnson, a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, representing the first district.
A lot went wrong in Chicago the four years after Lightfoot became mayor. Fatal shootings gripped the city, and crime went unchecked. The city posted a devastating 800 homicides in one year. Municipal services ran amok. Key corporations, most notably Boeing, left Chicago.
Mayor Lightfoot needed all the electoral help she could get. In a city of slightly less than 3 million, Italian Americans number almost 500,000.
To antagonize this core constituency in Chicago was a big mistake.
In the early morning hours of July 20, 2020, Mayor Lightfoot went back on her word. She ordered not one, not two, but all three Columbus monuments in Chicago removed from their respective pedestals.
Take note, mayors of America! Your political lives will be short ones when you attack Columbus.
(Just ask former Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who ordered the removal of the city’s Columbus statue — a decision that ISDA is fighting to reverse in the courts as we speak. Peduto, an incumbent looking to sail to a third term, instead suffered an embarrassing defeat in the city’s 2021 mayoral primary when he lost by almost 10 points to a first-time candidate.)
No matter the cancel culture obsessions of today’s mainstream media and academia, most Americans do not like the removal of public works of art. People love the statues and monuments in America’s cities. Only a loud and abrasive minority will seek the demolition of Columbus statues.
Mayor Lightfoot could see from the front window of her home in Chicago’s northwest side the gathering of angry youth in the early evening of July 19, 2020. The mob was intense, unruly and threatening. Chicago saw several nights of riots and vandalism, as did other cities, in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Yet, Mayor Lightfoot had promised the Italian American community in Chicago that monuments of Columbus were to remain standing in their respective locations of Grant Park, Arrigo Park and the Drake Fountain. Under duress, the mayor caved to the anti-intellectual mob. She played Judas to order all three statues removed after midnight on July 20th.
Humiliated, Italian American residents convened a press conference to promise that a political price was to be paid.
Three years later, they got their way.
Mayor Lightfoot is out.
Columbus will return.