On Tuesday voters in Chicago cast their ballots to determine the nominees to be the next Mayor in a nonpartisan election. Should a candidate receive 50% of the vote, they win outright. But given the size of the field, fourteen candidates, it’s a near certainty that the runoff election scheduled for April 2nd will be needed.
Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle has consistently led in all but one poll and has raised over $4 million for her bid. She has the backing of former White House staff members Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Cecile Richards, and the Chicago Teachers’ Union.
Candidates that have placed second, third or fourth in at least one poll released since the start of this year include:
- Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, who has led in fundraising ($7.25 million) and earned the endorsement of Howard Dean, former Vice President Al Gore, Congressman Bobby Rush, and former State Senate President Emil Jones
- Former Illinois State Board of Education Chair Gery Chico, $2.95 million raised, earning endorsements from Alderman Ed Burke and Raymond Lopez
- Businessman Willie Wilson, $1.66 million raised, and has the backing of Congressman Danny Davis and the Cook County Republican Party
- Former President of the Chicago Police Board Lori Lightfoot, raised over $1.43 millionand has the backing of Congresswoman Robin Kelly, the Chicago Sun-Times and Democracy for America
- Susana Mendoza, $2.48 million raised, and has the support of co-owner of the Cubs Laura Ricketts, 2018 Georgia Gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, and the Illinois Nurses Association
- Austin Chamber of Commerce Director Amara Enyia, $635,000 raised, and has the support of former mayoral candidate Dorothy Brown, Chance the Rapper, and Kanye West
(All fundraising figures are via the Chicago Sun-Times)
Joining those seven candidates with interchanging 1/2/3/4 leads are: former CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas, Former Assistant States Attorney Jerry Joyce, CodeNow CEO Neal Sales-Griffin, State Representative La Shawn Ford, former Alderman Robert Fioretti, and previous Alderman candidate John Kozlar.
While Preckwinkle has led in most polls, her vote share has been around a quarter at best or less, with the remaining candidates in the high single digits and teens.
At one point it appeared Preckwinkle and perhaps Mendoza would pull ahead to a clear top two, until the FBI investigation of powerful Alderman Ed Burke rocked the city.
Both had received money from Burke and publicly pledged to redirect his contributions to charity. Preckwinkle further promised to return over $100,000 raised by Burke on her behalf.
Gery Chico, who received the embattled Burke’s endorsement earlier in the race, wasn’t in a position for a bounce.
Bill Daley, a bit more distanced from the 14th Ald, appeared to be well positioned to gain after all of this, and earned the endorsement of the Chicago Tribune last week. Sensing his rise and threat, Mendoza took the opportunity in the recent debate to attack Daley over his role in the privatization of the city’s parking meters.
Preckwinkle accused Wilson of being a de facto Republican in the heavily Democratic city for his no-tax position.
Mendoza in turn had to answer questions surrounding Burke.
Drawing from experience in my new home state of Maryland, watching this race is like watching blue crabs in a bucket: in their crowded, collective race to get out ahead, anyone lucky enough to crawl up the wall gets pulled right back down by the others.
Early voting is down from the previous election, suggesting that high number of undecideds in polling matches reality. Many have no clue who they are pulling for Tuesday.
Polls close on Tuesday at 7pm local time, and DDHQ will have results that evening.