Mayoral Runoff Election Is Between Lightfoot, Preckwinkle

February 26, 2019 - 7:21 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Two African-American women -- former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle -- will square off April 2 in an historic runoff election for Chicago mayor.

In Tuesday's crowded field of mayoral candidates, Lightfoot garnered 17.52 percent of votes cast (88,697 votes), with 94 percent of the citywide vote counted Tuesday night, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. She was followed by Preckwinkle (15.99 percent/80,915 votes). Bill Daley trailed in third place, with 14.77 percent. Only one other candidate, Willie Wilson, broke more than 10 percent of votes counted.

The entire results can be found here.

A runoff of the two top vote-getters is necessary because no one in Tuesday's contest of 14 candidates won more than 50 percent of the vote.

Lightfoot's emergence as the leader in Tuesday's election was surprising, given the better financing and name recognition of some of the other candidates. Lightfoot, who is gay, ran on a platform of inclusion and police reform, among other issues. The former Chicago Police Board president was known as a critic of incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose administration was rocked by the Laquan McDonald scandal in 2015.

Lightfoot thanked her supporters for their work and for having the “courage to stand with our campaign against the machine.”

“This, my friends, is what change looks like,” she said at an election-night rally.

Preckwinkle, a former Chicago alderman and history teacher, said she fought for progressive causes long before it was fashionable. She promised to fight for working-class residents and wasted no time in taking a swipe at her opponent.

“While my opponent was taking multiple appointments in both the Daley and Emanuel administrations, I fought the power elites who’ve been trying to hold the city back for decades,” Preckwinkle told her own supporters.

Daley, brother of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, conceded around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, saying that the race would be between Lightfoot and Preckwinkle. The former U.S. Commerce secretary was the best-financed mayoral candidate. He struck a conciliatory note in his concession speech.

Thousands of mail-in ballots had not been received by election officials by Tuesday, meaning the results could change in coming days.

This year's Chicago's mayoral election attracted an unprecedented number of candidates, from veteran politicians to virtual unknowns.

The field was already large even when incumbent Emanuel was expected to seek a third term in office. When he announced late last year he wouldn't run again, a variety of candidates stepped forward. The number of contenders was whittled down to 14, following a series of legal challenges.

And yet voter turnout Tuesday was suprisingly light, around 34 percent, raising the question as to whether voters were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of hopefuls.