Kass on Lightfoot's slick new ad campaign.
Does Lightfoot Really Deliver as Chicago’s Mayoral Race Takes Shape?
By John Kass
November 20, 2022
Just as I sat down to write this column on Chicago Mayor Lightfoot’s disastrous week—her sad commercials, Lori getting caught blocking bike lanes so she can grab some donuts, and her focus on pepperoni pizza delivery while ignoring her signature Italian sauseege–my phone began ringing.
It was “the paper.”
We’re they calling to grovel and apologize?
They wanted to give me something. Free.
“Mr. Kass, we’d like to offer you a free printed Sunday edition of the Tribune with no charge,” said the pleasant woman on the phone, a once-great newspaper reduced. I could imagine her calling me from a place of tin roofs and seasonal heavy rains, crushing humidity and brain-scrambling heat.
Yet I am an online subscriber to it and several other news shops, because I support journalism, though now I read “the paper” mostly for minor amusement:
To see just how deeply it bends the knee to praise Boss Toni Preckwinkle, protectress of do-little prosecutor Kim Foxx, and how deeply it buries the name of mayoral candidate Paul Vallas in news stories.
“Are you sure? You don’t want it?”
I don’t want it, even free. I can build a fire without one, though I may have read somewhere that our family’s new home (removed from high-crime Chicago) “has a lower level with a brick fireplace with a glass door to an exterior patio space.”
Such turgid prose. But there is no fire under Lightfoot’s re-election campaign is there? Yes, that is a painfully awkward transition, but then so is the Lightfoot re-election campaign that seeks to humanize her.
She’s become the hapless candidate, a butt of jokes. She has been overwhelmed by violent crime. Her TV ads about Lori “delivering” pizza are painful to watch. Her aides have tried to humanize her, but after all she’s said and done, after all her foul-mouthed snarling, humanizing Lori is a labor of Hercules.
But they do illustrate where the Lightfoot campaign thinks it’s going. The ads remind me of former Mayor Rahm Emanuel dressed in a soft fuzzy sweater, speaking in a soft Beta male voice, pretending to humble himself.
Lori’s ads feature two young guys, one white one black, sitting in their default position on the couch playing video games. They’re not at work. They’re not climbing power lines or fixing broken pipes. They’re in the virtual game world. But they’re experts who talk about how she’s “delivered” for Chicago. In one of the ads, they ask her to play video games, but she can’t, she says she’s got work to do.
Yeah, she’s busy, thinking up memes about herself when she’s not promoting karaoke contests and singing. She’s the queen of memes.
In another ad she vaguely admits to mistakes.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you we did everything perfectly. We haven’t. And when we haven’t, you pick yourself up, and you listen and you’re humble and you learn from your mistakes.”
What mistakes exactly Madam Mayor? Panicking during the George Floyd/BLM/Antifa riots, turning the downtown over to the thugs, demonizing your police force, preventing them from doing their jobs chasing violent criminals, and endorsing their enemy, the Soros backed do-nothing prosecutor Kim Foxx?
She doesn’t say. Like Rahm in the soft sweater, the humble act is implied. It’s left to the viewer to complete the humanizing. Very tricky.
In another ad, the other, a doorbell rings and there’s impish Lori asking them, “Did you order thousands of new jobs and a pepperoni?”
Thousands of new jobs Lori? Really? With major corporations leaving Chicago and downtown office vacancy rates all-time highs?
And what’s up with the pepperoni?
You forgot the sausage? To the Italians of Chicago–who were upset that the mayor in an Orwellian fit shut all the Christopher Columbus statues up in her prison of Politically Problematic Statuary–Lightfoot isn’t the exactly the pepperoni mayor delivery boy.
She’s the sauseege mayor.
Lightfoot’s vulgar boasts about her sausage being more impressive than that of all the Italians of Chicago—that were immortalized in a civil lawsuit–earned her the name Mayor Phallus Maximus.
Wasn’t it just yesterday that Lightfoot was ostentatiously pugnacious, having defeated her rival Boss Toni Preckwinkle in every ward?
But that was when Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, was federally indicted and the Burke-Boss Toni alliance was exposed. He held a fundraiser for Preckwinkle. She put his son in a 100,000 job on the Cook County payroll. Burke blew up and exploded all over Toni’ campaign.
The Chicago media made Lori their poster child—and I was part of it—and Boss Toni was done.
But Boss Toni knew a truth. Lightfoot had no management experience. She wasn’t anywhere close to being ready to assume the job of mayor.
She had no presence in Springfield and that cost the city. She knew how to humiliate Chicago aldermen, but she didn’t have the knowledge of her own government to lead them. The inexperienced mayor and inexperienced governor had no background, or affinity for managing.
In the last campaign, Burke was the issue. In this campaign violent street crime is the issue, and her treatment of police.
The politics for Lightfoot grew worse last week, as her commercials were ridiculed like her bizarre fib about not realizing she had her limo parked in a bike lane to get donuts, endangering and enraging her base of the Little Bike People.
Politics in Chicago is a game of tribes and a game of simple arithmetic. The idea is to make the run-off in February for a one-on-one matchup in April.
Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, decided not to run. And former Gov. Pat Quinn decided against a run. She needed them both in the race to split the white vote and isolate former Chicago schools chief Paul Vallas, who has raised about $2 million, putting him ahead of the others.
Two pro-Preckwinkle candidates, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson and U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia should also be on the air soon. And there are others out there, affable businessman Willie Wilson, and Ald. Ray Lopez, 15th, among others.
But Vallas has more money and he’s quickly becoming the inevitable candidate. He’s establishment Chicago’s last chance at shoring up a city that is collapsing under the angry weight of the left.
The Vallas campaign focuses on Lightfoot’s abysmal handling of crime, and how giving Chicago parents true education options by providing real school choice.
A Chicago mayoral candidate talking realistically and passionately about real school choice to save public education, and daring to oppose and target the George Soros-backed prosecutor and her network of hard left political enablers, Vallas should be a national story.
He should be the tip of the spear, but he isn’t, not yet. Perhaps soon, but for as long as he’s not given national media attention, Lightfoot will be grateful, assuming of course that she even wants to keep the job.
She’s has seemed like she’s been going through the motions. But all of it will shake out once Thanksgiving passes.
On the podcast “Two Guys on Politics” I asked hosts former U.S. Rep. Bill Lipinski—one of the last of the moderate Democrats–and former Sun Times columnist Ray Hanania whether Vallas might be “too white” to run.
“As long as Pat Quinn decided not to run, I still think Vallas is in pretty good shape,” Bill Lipinski said. “But I want to say this about Vallas. He might be a terrific mayor, I don’t know, but he could possibly be. Lipinski knows its all an arithmetic issue.
“But he’s a terrible campaigner. Someone close to him has got to get to him and tell him he doesn’t have to tell us everything that he knows every time he gets an opportunity to speak. If I was advising Paul, I’d tell him to make the speeches much, much shorter. We know how smart you are we’ve heard you talk that way for 20 years now.”
It’s all coming into focus now, the constituent groups, the ethnic tribes in the city of tribes.
Even those who pretend they’re of no tribe—and play video games in Lori Lightfoot commercials–are going to go tribal soon.
The public employee (government worker) unions are tribal, including public school teachers and Cook County and Chicago government who have been organized against most other taxpayers. The government workers are legitimately concerned about their woefully underfunded pension systems, adding to the general anxiety.
And all you’ll hear for the rest of December, January and February will be crime, crime and crime. There will be much whining, complaining and shrieking over political ads focusing on crime, perhaps any with a real victim’s scream recorded, say, by a doorbell camera.
It’s all political.
After Thanksgiving, things come into focus for voters. The candidates sort out their money, put out their ads, get their petitions ready (or not).
The newspapers and broadcast media will begin shaping the issues, what can and can’t be said in a city devoured by violent crime, where victims bleed out, their names soon forgotten.
But the media–at least the corporate, legacy news media–has lost its influence. Who pays attention to them now?
The police force has been thoroughly demoralized, the overwhelming majority of Chicago Public Schools students can’t read or do math at grade level and therefore will be unable to find decent jobs when they’re grown. As CTA riders are terrorized, as lawlessness and power politics reign supreme in the city that once worked.
As taxpayers—black, white, and brown—run if they can and vote with their feet. Lightfoot knows this. So do the other candidates. And so do you.
And against this backdrop, the race for mayor of Chicago, the main event, begins.