With a little help from former President Barack Obama and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Ald. Sophia King coasted to a commanding victoryin Tuesday’s special aldermanic election in the South Side’s 4th Ward.
King, who was appointed to the City Council seat by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, wound up with more than three times as many votes as her closest rival.
She declared victory shortly before 9 p.m.
King was one of the rare aldermanic candidates to win the endorsement of a former U.S. president.
“Obviously that was really helpful,” she told the Sun-Times shortly after giving her victory speech.
But King attributed her win to listening to the voters “and making sure we got around to all parts of the community.”
“I can’t discount the president’s support, but I really think our message resonated with people,” she said.
King won nearly 63.8 percent of the vote with all38 precincts reporting.
Attorney Ebony D. Lucas was in a distant second place in the five-candidate race with just over 17.5 percent.
Although Emanuel is the one who handed King her City Council seat, the mayor’s support has been both a blessing and a curse for King.
The mayor appointed King to fill the vacancy created by the surprise resignation a year ago of Ald. Will Burns (4th). That mayoral support gave King a leg up on the competition in Tuesday’s special aldermanic election, allowing her to run as the incumbent and to raise more money than all her rivals — six times as much as her nearest competitor.
But it also forced her to establish her independence, given Emanuel’s own struggles to regain his credibility with African American voters.
“You know I think definitely he was a factor,” she said. “That was something most people mentioned when they had hesitation in supporting me.
“But I appreciated his confidence in me, and I appreciated him listening to me and what I think.”
And ultimately, she said voters “are smart and they could read between the lines and give me an opportunity.”
To burnish her own credentials, King touted Obama’s endorsement. The former president is a longtime friend of her husband. And King went door to door with Preckwinkle, who held the aldermanic seat before Burns.
But even as King avoided mentioning Emanuel, some of her rivals made sure the mayor was a factor in the race.
Challenger Gregory Seal Livingston led protests of the mayor’s handling of the Laquan McDonald shooting video and demanded Emanuel resign.
“If she gets in, this is Rahm’s ward,” Livingston has said of King. “Whatever team picks you, that’s the team you’re playing for. The moment she tries to assert any type of aldermanic will, she will be put down.”
Challenger Gerald Scott McCarthy campaigned on the lack of economic development on Cottage Grove Avenue and on 35th, 39th, 43rd and 47th Streets. Lucas also focused on uneven development in the ward.
Also running was attorney Marcellus Moore Jr., who said violence, schools and jobs are the three biggest issues facing 4th Ward residents.