Ald. Sophia King (4th) announced she’s joining the growing list of candidates planning to run against Mayor Lori Lightfoot in 2023.
King, who chairs the City Council Progressive Caucus, is the first woman to announce plans to challenge Lightfoot. She represents the 4th Ward, which includes parts of the South Loop, Bronzeville, Hyde Park, and Kenwood neighborhoods.
Her newly released campaign video takes aim at violent crime in Chicago, starting with her visiting the site near 43rd Street and Berkeley Avenue, where a shooting took place just days after she first took office in 2016.
“Violence is not an abstract problem to me. I have seen the pain it causes way too many times. There’s no question about it: we have to hold the people who commit violent crimes accountable, and we have to hold our leaders accountable too,” she said.
King also took aim at Lightfoot’s combative relationship with the City Council and overall governing style.
“I am running for mayor because we need more collaboration, not more confrontation, and we can go further together,” King said.
King has been on the City Council since 2016, when then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her to fill the vacancy left when Ald. Will Burns resigned.
In one of his first acts after leaving the White House, former President Barack Obama endorsed longtime friend King in the special election for alderman in his home ward on the South Side back in 2017.
King is the third sitting alderperson to announce plans to run for mayor, joining Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) and Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th). Others who have announced plans to run for mayor in 2023 include businessman Willie Wilson, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, Illinois State Rep. Kam Buckner, community activist Ja’Mal Green, and Chicago police officer Frederick Collins.
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police president John Catanzara had announced last year he planned to run for mayor, but earlier this week said he’s no longer running.
Other potential candidates who have been weighing bids for mayor include Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), Chicago Teachers Union president Stacy Davis Gates, Illinois State Rep. La Shawn Ford, and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson.
WVON Radio host, attorney, and political commentator Kimberley Egonmwan said Obama’s past support for King might be a game changer in terms of name recognition for Lightfoot’s challengers.
“He still has a strong reputation, especially in that area, coming out of the University of Chicago, and his wife working at University of Chicago,” Egonmwan said.
Overall, Egonmwan said she doesn’t think the field of challengers is strong enough to seriously threaten Lightfoot.
“You’ve got everyone running appealing to their own smaller base, or their own smaller community; and when you think about the mayor, who has run, she won by a landslide, and she was able to garner the support of many people in many different communities,” she said.
Egonmwan said none of the challengers seems to have the same broad support that Lightfoot was able to get in 2019, when she won all 50 wards in the runoff election against Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
While the mayor’s approval rating has dropped to about 25%, Egonmwan said it’s not clear what candidate – or potential future candidate – could be the one to deliver a “knockout punch” to oust Lightfoot in 2023.
Despite the growing number of challengers planning to run against her, Lightfoot said at an unrelated event Wednesday that she doesn’t feel vulnerable in her chances for re-election.
“People are going to jump in. This is the silly season. It’s going to happen. I remain focused on making sure I deliver every single day for the residents of this city, and if I continue to do that, I feel very optimistic about re-election,”
King and several other mayoral challengers have said they would fire Chicago Police Supt. David Brown when they take office, but Lightfoot said the city’s top cop still has her full support, despite the city’s ongoing struggles with violent crime.
“I have total confidence in David Brown,” she said.
While carjackings and violent crime on the CTA still are on the rise, Lightfoot noted overall homicides and shootings are down this year, and said a change in leadership at CPD would be “foolish.”
“Frankly it suggests to me that people that don’t know anything about public safety, local policing, or someone who is a notable national expert, well regarded, as David Brown. He has my total confidence,” she said.