David Giuliani: Underdogs can still win
Remember the November election: It was one gazillionaire against another in the governor’s race.
Their wealth was the main reason they were nominated by their parties. That can make voters cynical.
But Chicago’s mayoral election Tuesday was another case — a story of an underdog finishing on top.
All the media and political gods had either Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle or former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley winning. Or possibly Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, former city official Gery Chico or businessman Willie Wilson.
In fact, the media maestros were so sure of themselves that Fox 32 Chicago invited only those five for its main debate. At first, the channel excluded the others entirely. But after an outcry, it invited a few of them to a later event outside of prime time.
Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, was among the shafted. That’s probably a decision Fox 32 regrets. As it turned out, Lightfoot prevailed with 17.5 percent of the vote among 14 candidates and will face Preckwinkle in an April 2 runoff.
Fox 32 said it based its decision on polling, but that’s a fickle gauge in a low-participation race with so many candidates.
The channel’s favored candidates were five of the top six fundraisers — Daley ($8.3 million), Preckwinkle ($4.6 million), Chico ($3.3 million), Mendoza ($2.8 million) and Wilson ($1.6 million), according to the Chicago Tribune. Lightfoot finished seventh, with $1.5 million.
Lightfoot collected even less than the total the legislative candidates raised last year in the Kankakee-based 79th House District, which has a tiny fraction of Chicago’s voters.
Despite its reputation, Chicago shows money is not everything in politics. Yes, it helps, but when voters are angry enough, they can surprise. (Barack Obama defeated a wealthy field of candidates in the 2004 Illinois Senate election.)
As a self-described reformer, Lightfoot likely benefited from the albatross known as Alderman Ed Burke, who hung around the necks of her establishment rivals. Despite attempts to distance themselves from Burke, Daley, Preckwinkle, Chico and Mendoza failed to escape the reality of their close ties to the recently indicted alderman.
The support for Lightfoot was a rejection of the political machine.
A couple weeks ago, we reported an incident in which a handgun was allegedly stolen from a Kankakee County jailer’s truck, which was parked at his home and believed to be unlocked.
We got this information from the listing of incidents that Kankakee police provide us regularly.
Here’s the thing: We might not have learned about this theft if it happened in another town in our area.
Bradley, Bourbonnais and Kankakee County report their arrests and the biggest crimes, but they do not regularly report incidents without arrests that happen in their jurisdictions — the burglaries, shots fired, assaults.
Kankakee provides this information. This lets people know what’s going on, what to look out for. This openness is a cut above other towns.