At the election night celebration for Kim Foxx, the crowd started chanting, “Two down. One to go.”
The “two down” were incumbent State’s Attorney Alvarez, whom Foxx had just defeated, and former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, who was fired Dec. 1.
The “one to go” is Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who fended off months of protests demanding his resignation for keeping the Laquan McDonald shooting video under wraps for more than a year and waiting until one week after the April 7 mayoral runoff to authorize a $5 million settlement to the McDonald family even before a lawsuit had been filed.
The video was released — on the same day that Alvarez finally charged Police Officer Jason Van Dyke with first-degree murder, and only after a judge ordered the city to do so.
The question now: What does the Foxx landslide mean for Emanuel and the prospects of electing an African-American mayor in 2019?
Would the mayor face a similar backlash if he dared put his name on a Chicago ballot again?
Will a black political movement virtually dormant since the 1987 death of then-Mayor Harold Washington be reborn by the shocking video played around the world of a white police officer pumping 16 rounds into the body of a black teenager?
Or was Foxx the beneficiary of a galvanizing event quickly followed by an election that will be difficult to duplicate?
On Wednesday, Emanuel rejected the notion that the Foxx landslide could be interpreted as a “referendum” on his own performance on the Laquan McDonald controversy.
“No. That was an election between three candidates,” he said.
But the mayor said he “doesn’t “need just an election to know” that he has a lot of work to do if he has any hope of winning back the support of African-American voters who elected him in 2011 and re-elected him in 2015, even after he closed a record 50 public schools.
“The voters were clear they want to see a change — not just in the sense of the prosecutor, but also at our police department, in our community relations and how we work together,” the mayor said.
Emanuel said he’s been implementing reforms “since November” when the video was released, triggering a federal civil rights investigation of the Chicago Police Department. Those reforms address everything “from training to transparency to more body cameras to Tasers to better training as it relates to mental health — the things that are necessary to . . . improve the trust and cooperation between the public and the Police Department,” he said.
“It’s not on a single day. It’s every day. And I work on it every day and I will work on it to see all of the reforms that are necessary all the way through for the next three years.”
While Monday morning quarterbacks were focusing on the Foxx landslide, top mayoral aides pointed to Hillary Clinton, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and State Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago). All three survived despite advertising onslaughts that attempted to tie them to the politically-weakened Emanuel.
They further noted that State Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago) was overwhelmingly defeated, even after accusing his opponent, Julianna Stratton, of being an Emanuel “puppet.”
County Board President Toni Preckwinkle fought with Alvarez and helped convince Foxx, Preckwinkle’s former chief-of-staff, to enter the race.
Preckwinkle took a pass on the 2015 mayoral race despite her tense relationship with Emanuel.
On Wednesday, Preckwinkle basked in the glow of the Foxx landslide but played down the impact on Emanuel or the prospects of electing a black mayor in 2019.