Chicago mayoral finalists Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle were out greeting commuters and making the media rounds Wednesday morning, hours after an election that will lead to one of them making history.
Lightfoot and Preckwinkle were the No. 1 and No. 2 vote-getters, respectively, in Chicago’s citywide election Tuesday. They will face each other in an April 2 runoff election. The winner will be Chicago’s first female African-American mayor.
Lightfoot, who was a federal prosecutor in northern Illinois, and Preckwinkle, the Democratic Cook County Board president, came out on top of 14 candidates on the ballot. But neither of them got more than the 50 percent of votes needed to avoid a runoff. One of them will succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who did not seek re-election.
Preckwinkle shook hands with commuters and talked to reporters at the CTA’s 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line station early Wednesday.
“I think I have the strongest progressive record of any of the candidates who were running, and I think that's still true,” she said, comparing herself with Lightfoot.
Preckwinkle got backing from the Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU Local 1, which meant her campaign had the benefit of a significant number of unionized campaign workers and the organizations’ financial backing -- advantages her supporters hoped would translate to a first-place finish in a record-low-turnout election.
Lightfoot, who would be Chicago’s first openly gay mayor, is the former head of a city police watchdog agency. She courted progressive voters and was at it again early Wednesday, greeting commuters at the CTA’s Clark/Lake station in the Loop.
Later, in a phone interview on WBEZ’s Morning Shift, she said: “I think that the thing that voters really latched onto is that I'm the change candidate. We've been talking from literally day one about the need to break from the corrupt political machine, to break from the past.”
The question of who’s more progressive—and who’s less connected to Chicago’s political establishment—has been the attack narrative of the campaign for both camps. Lightfoot has repeatedly slammed Preckwinkle, who heads the Cook County Democratic Party, as a political boss. And Preckwinkle has tried to paint Lightfoot as an insider who worked for the last two mayors.
Unofficial results showed Lightfoot got 17.5 percent of the vote compared to 16 percent for Preckwinkle. Former White House Chief of Staff William Daley was in third with nearly 15 percent.