A provocative take in Politico on next week’s Chicago mayoral election.
Catanzara’s racist fear-mongering
“If this guy [Brandon Johnson] gets in we’re going to see an exodus like we’ve never seen before,” he said, predicting “blood in the streets.” — F.O.P. President John Catanzara
Shia Kapos, writing in Politico (Illinois Playbook), has a provocative take on next week’s Chicago mayoral election. She connects both Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas to the city’s Democratic political machine. Kapos says, incumbent Lori Lightfoot, who ran and won as the anti-machine candidate in 2019, paid the price this year because her message didn’t resonate with enough voters. She finished third in the primary, capturing the city’s Black wards on the south and west sides, but still finished four points behind Johnson for the runoff spot against Vallas.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot worked to rid City Hall of the machine-style politics that dictated it for generations.
Lightfoot instituted ethics reform that limited outside employment of city workers. She changed the conflict-of-interest rules to prevent the kind of shakedowns that Ald. Ed Burke is accused of. Aldermanic prerogative was cut back. And the mayor took away power from entrenched committee chairs.
That didn’t motivate voters, who instead sent Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson to the mayoral runoff — candidates both connected to Chicago’s old-school style of politics
Johnson’s campaign is being navigated in large part by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who’s also the powerful boss of the county Democratic Party. And Johnson’s campaign is funded by the Chicago Teachers Union, which gave hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s machine.
Vallas is a product of the fabled Daley “machine,” having worked for former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s administration. A key Vallas campaign aide is former Daley Chief of Staff Gery Chico. And Vallas is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, though he says it won’t be a conflict since he hasn’t taken money from the organization.
Next Chapter: Lightfoot stood up to both the police and teachers unions, ultimately to her peril, and now voters must decide which machine they’re going to get behind instead.
Be that as it may, while I voted for Lightfoot in the first round, I’m now supporting Johnson against Vallas. The reason is simple. Johnson is still the progressive in this race with heavy support coming from the city’s Black community while Vallas is the reactionary, school privatizer, heavily funded by MAGA Republicans and backed by Catanzara and his F.O.P. gang.
The latest poll shows voters lining up largely along racial lines. White voters back Vallas, 59.9% to 32.3%, while African Americans back Johnson 55.4% to 24.6%. As for Chicago’s Latino voters, Vallas has a clear advantage with support among 57% compared to 30.3% backing Johnson.
According to Natalie Moore at WBEZ:
Public statements from Vallas include saying in 2021 that critical race theory is “giving people an excuse for bad behavior.” He waxed on about how teaching African American history in public school can be a distraction, and some curricula are divisive. Erstwhile Chicagoan Ken Griffin, a billionaire hedge fund Republican supporter, has endorsed Vallas.
I would add, his dog-whistle call to “take back our city” may get him lots of white votes, but it won’t get mine.
And speaking of the F.O.P….
Be sure and read Chicago peoples’ lawyer Flint Taylor’s piece in today’s Sun-Times, The racist history of Chicago’s FOP.