CHICAGO — To try to win, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot went negative early, painting her challengers as unacceptable alternatives.
She did so again Tuesday at a roundtable with union supporters.
Three weeks before Election Day, a boost for Lightfoot as the 15,000-member strong UNITE HERE! hospitality union threw its support behind the incumbent.
In the early days of the pandemic, Chicago’s hospitality industry was pummeled. But UNITE HERE says Lightfoot had their back.
WGN News asked Lightfoot why she hasn’t spoken more about COVID on the campaign trail after receiving high praise for her leadership amid the pandemic.
“We do and we will,” the mayor responded. “I think it is important for us because frankly, we had the best COVID response of any city in the country and I have no doubt that there are people walking around today who wouldn’t be alive but for the way in which we – and I say that collectively – came together.“
On the trail, as she deflects criticism of her public safety record, Lightfoot has lobbed bombs at top-tier rivals. On Tuesday, the Lightfoot campaign released a video using Paul Vallas’ words from 2009 against him: “I’m more of a Republican than a Democrat now.”
“He’s not telling the truth to the voters,” Lightfoot told WGN News. “He’s trying to present himself as something that he simply is not. It’s not just that he associates himself with Republicans, he associates himself with the far-right fringe.”
Vallas insists he’s a Democrat.
Lightfoot also threw proverbial punches at Congressman Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia, connecting him to an indicted political megadonor and former House Speaker Michael Madigan.
WGN News asked Lightfoot about the motivation behind the targeted attacks and if any evidence supports that Garcia is corrupt.
“I think what voters have to see is that he’s made a series of unholy alliances with people who are absolutely corrupt,” Lightfoot answered.
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The mayor, known for her confrontational style with City Council, says she doubts she’ll soften her approach if elected to a second term.
“I think there’s been an evolution from Day one,” she said. “They were used to a way of dealing that their allegiance was bought and paid for, and that’s just simply not how I operate.”
Although polls have shown Lightfoot’s approval rating well underwater, she’s used the power of incumbency to secure the backing of more than a dozen labor and interest groups.