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PETER ROFF: Chicago Isn’t Out Of The Woke Woods Yet

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Peter Roff A former UPI political writer and U.S. News and World Report columnist, Peter Roff is a Trans-Atlantic Leadership Network media fellow. Contact him at RoffColumns AT and follow him on Twitter @TheRoffDraft.
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That voters in Chicago gave Mayor Lori Lightfoot the boot Tuesday was not unexpected. The margin of her defeat, however, was another matter.

There are still nearly 90,000 votes left to be counted and that won’t change the outcome. Yet of all the ballots cast and counted, 83% of them were for someone other than Lightfoot. That’s a shellacking no matter how you look at it, even if she did end up in third place.

The late polls predicted as much, but not why. The real reason for Lightfoot’s embarrassing rejection, the one no one dared talk about too loudly for fear of making the coalition that put her in office four years ago mad, was her inability to run the city.

Lightfoot talked tough a lot of time, just to the wrong people. Like many progressives, she concerned herself with “speaking truth to power” more than confronting the problems created by urban violence, ineffective schools, and a crumbling infrastructure. Who needs a mayor who talks about social justice issues when murders are up 59%, robberies are up 27%, and motor vehicle thefts are up 270%? (RELATED: MAILEE SMITH: Chicago, Don’t Go From Bad To Worse This Election Day)

That suggests she’s enormously unpopular, yet as the second city’s first black gay woman mayor she was insulated against criticism. The people to whom her election meant progress and the acquisition of real political power are easily offended and not to be antagonized.

Her defeat does not mean an end to wokeness on the banks of Lake Michigan, however. Paul Vallas, the former Chicago Public Schools CEO who got the most votes of any of the nine candidates in the February 28 non-partisan primary, is not a progressive. But Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, the former teachers’ union activist who came in second, is. That means the radical left is alive and well going into the April 4 runoff election.

Together, Lightfoot and Johnson — who was at one time a proud member of the defund the police movement — got 37% of the vote. Vallas, who has the backing of the police union and campaigned on bringing law and order back to the city’s streets, got 34%.

Where did the other 29% go? To a collection of collectivists including Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia who garnered 17% of the vote, mostly from the city’s Hispanic wards, and who may have the outcome of the election in his hands.

Will Garcia go to the left or the right? Will he endorse Vallas — who’s White — or Johnson — who’s Black? Or will he keep his powder dry while planning another run for mayor four years hence?

That might be the smart move. The Democrats have watched as their national hold on power was reduced to a series of urban fiefdoms run by a collection of public employee unions and demographic groups united by grievances.

They don’t always play well together and it’s a growing problem for the party. As much attention as the rifts within the GOP gets, the real story is how, in multi-ethnic urban centers like Chicago, Hispanic and Black Democrats are engaged in a power struggle over who will be in charge.

That’s not an easy matter to resolve. Unfortunately, the Republicans — who could also hold the balance of power if there were enough of them left in Chicago — haven’t figured out how to explain to voters in the inner cities that the candidates who focus on economic growth, job creation, and education reform have their best interests in mind.

Until they do, they’re not part of the discussion in any meaningful way. This leaves the voters with fewer choices than they deserve and almost guarantees that no matter who wins, Chicago will continue down the road toward total collapse.

A former UPI senior political writer and U.S. News and World Report columnist, Peter Roff is a senior fellow at several public policy organizations including the Trans-Atlantic Leadership Network. Contact him at RoffColumns AT Follow him on Twitter and TruthSocial @TheRoffDraft.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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