Can Chicago finally turn things around?

Next week is the mayoral election in Chicago, and things are actually looking up a bit in my long-ago home town.

Chicago has non-partisan elections for aldermen and mayor — which is good, because there are so many chumbolones: dim-witted Chicagoans who will vote for any Democrat, no matter how bad, like Soros-backed prosecutor Kim Foxx.

The non-partisan races tend to break down by race, among white, black, and Hispanic candidates all scrambling to make the run-off.  Last time, two black mayoral contenders made the run-off — the corrupt machine boss, Toni Preckwinkle, and the supposed reformer, Lori Lightfoot.  Interestingly, Chicago has seen a steep decline the last 20 years in its black population.

The polls in 2022 showed Lightfoot getting trounced by several contenders and Congressman Chuy Garcia leading.  Garcia, though, appears to be the first casualty of the Sam Bankman-Fried scandals.  I suppose young Sam figured that if Soros could buy a Chicago prosecutor, he ought to buy a Chicago mayor.

This set the stage for a Lightfoot comeback, but also opened the door for a respected government official and moderate Democrat, Paul Vallas — a man who in the recent past even flirted with the idea of running as a Republican.

That's something you don't see in Chicago these days: a mayor who is a competent, non-crazy person.  The latest polls show Vallas surging ahead.  Most observers believe he can beat Lightfoot in a run-off.  My family in law enforcement back in Illinois even think Vallas could stem some of the outrageous violence now afflicting the city, such as the record homicide levels in recent years, which, until now, has made no impression on Democratic leaders.  Governor Pritzker keeps pushing more pro-criminal laws through the Legislature and now the courts.

Chicago schools are also in the direct control of the mayor and, under Lightfoot, left to the mercy of the teacher's union.  No surprise — most of the public schools are utterly worthless.

One may also ask, where are the Illinois Republicans in all this?  Can they not at least do something in Springfield?

Well, all the world remembers the notorious history of Chicago ballot-stuffing, and how it led to Kennedy winning Illinois in 1960.  The election fraud wasn't about JFK — it was done that year by Mayor Daley and the Outfit to stop Republican Ben Adamowski, their arch-nemesis, from being re-elected state's attorney. 

But few recall "the rest of the story," as Chicago's most famous broadcaster might put it.  All the vote fraud of that era created a massive backlash against the Machine Democrats.

Republicans organized the original Operation Eagle Eye in 1962, which sent poll-watchers into the mob-controlled "River Wards" and ended the obvious vote-stealing.

A series of major GOP victories in Cook County and statewide followed.  Nixon's U.S. attorney, Jim Thompson, even prosecuted most of Daley's allies, starting with the outgoing governor, Otto Kerner.  Reform Democrat Dan Walker took on Daley, winning a single divisive gubernatorial term in 1972.  The Republicans then won every Illinois election for governor until 2002, and Richard J. Daley passed away in 1976, his Machine a near impotent wreck, to be led by one nincompoop after another.

But sadly, Illinois, after decades of Republican victories, still became just another high-tax, high-regulation state.  Public employee unions are now the dominant force in government.  Crime and nasty race politics are as bad as ever in Chicago's black neighborhoods.  Republican Jim Edgar even torpedoed what was then a bipartisan school choice movement in the 1990s.  If the nickname "RINO" wasn't coined in Illinois, it should have been.

To give you an idea of how far the Illinois Republican Party has sunk, just a few years ago, Adam Kinzinger was considered the party's brightest star.

Paul Vallas may well win election as mayor and try to turn things around.  But he won't get any help from Springfield, nor from what's left of the Illinois Republicans.

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, Ky.

Image via Public Domain Pictures.

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