Chicago's Democrat Mayor Lori Lightfoot has feigned championing democracy in the past, but now that her power is at stake, she is apparently happy to dissuade voters from exercising their rights and performing their civic duties.
Lightfoot is seeking reelection on Feb. 28. Three among the eight other challengers on the ballot pose credible threats to her chances of securing a second term.
A recent poll from the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University put Lightfoot third with 14%.
Rep. Jesús "Chuy" Garcia (D-Ill.), one of Lightfoot's competitors, who ranked second in the poll, noted, "It's looking harder and harder for her. ... It's a hell of a front to be fighting on, from her vantage point."
Lightfoot has begun to lash out, most recently at Brandon Johnson, the Cook County commissioner backed by the Chicago Teachers Union, and admitted over the weekend that "it's impossible not to have a runoff."
Feeling the heat and uncertain to make it to the runoff, the Democratic incumbent has once again taken to employing questionable tactics to get her way.
The mayor suggested to a crowd in Grand Crossing over the weekend that if voters did not intend to vote for her, they should abstain from voting altogether, reported Fox News Digital.
Lightfoot addressed black citizens on the city's South Side, telling them that a vote for "somebody not named Lightfoot is a vote for Chuy Garcia or Paul Vallas," two of the other front-runners in the race.
The Chicago Tribune noted that Lightfoot singled out the only Latino and white challengers among the nine candidates in the race.
Rep. Jesús "Chuy" García is a member of the U.S. House and previously served on the Chicago City Council, in the Illinois state Senate, and on the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
Paul Vallas, another Democrat, was previously CEO at Chicago State University, serving also as a superintendent in various school districts in various cities.
Lightfoot said, "If you want them controlling your fate and your destiny, then stay home. ... Then don't vote."
In 2020, Lightfoot told WBEZ Chicago that "to be able to cast your vote for our representatives is the most purest, most powerful form of democracy that we have. We can't truly affect the trajectory of our own lives, let alone the lives of people who can't advocate for themselves, if we don't vote."
After casting her vote Monday at Northeastern Illinois University, Lightfoot reportedly backpedaled on her suggestion that voters who prefer another candidate to her should surrender the ability to "affect the trajectory" of their own lives.
"If I said anything other than everybody everywhere needs to vote, then I misspoke in the heat of a campaign rally," she told reporters. "But I’ve been very consistent all along saying everybody everywhere needs to step up, and they need to vote, just as I said today."
Despite the mayor's attempt to downplay her earlier suggestion, Garcia stated, "This is disqualifying rhetoric for anyone hoping to lead a Chicago that is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic city."
Brandon Johnson responded to Lightfoot's call for voters to sit out the election, saying, "Lori Lightfoot telling residents not to vote unless they vote for her shows that she cares more about maintaining power for herself than empowering communities or getting things done for the people of our city."
Ja’Mal Green, an activist also running for mayor, called Lightfoot's comments "an affront to democratic process, where each person’s voice is heard at the ballot box."
"Mayor Lightfoot’s comments are delusional, divisive, dangerous, and disappointing!" said Willie Wilson, another mayoral challenger convinced that Lightfoot was using "race to divide us."
This is not the first time Lightfoot has brushed off a strategic measure as a "mistake."
TheBlaze previously reported that Lightfoot was met with fierce criticism in January after her campaign manager sent emails to Chicago Public Schools teachers, pressuring them to ask students to help the mayor with her reelection campaign by volunteering 12 hours per week in exchange for class credit.
Lightfoot's campaign had sent similar emails to the City Colleges of Chicago in August, prompting at least one teacher to file an ethics complaint.
Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates told WTTW the campaign's emails were "unethical" and possibly in violation of Lightfoot's own ethics ordinances and policies.
After the Lightfoot campaign initially defended its attempt to weaponize the city's youth in a political campaign, Lightfoot ultimately called the emails "clearly a mistake," pinning blame on a "young staffer."
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