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Preckwinkle closing mayoral campaign by highlighting independent roots

Toni Preckwinkle's final TV ad tries to push back against criticism that she has become part of the "old boys club." | Screenshot

Amara Enyia and Dorothy Brown have accused Toni Preckwinkle of “taking on” the old boys club only to “become a part of it.”

But Preckwinkle is closing her mayoral campaign with a television commercial that paints a dramatically different picture.

It highlights Preckwinkle’s career as a teacher and an independent alderman who stayed true to her progressive roots, even after becoming chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party.

“Toni Preckwinkle’s career started in classrooms, not a smoke-filled back room. And to become alderman, she didn’t join the machine, she beat it,” a narrator says over shots of Preckwinkle smiling as she interacts with students.

The scene then shifts to old photos and footage of Preckwinkle as a young alderman on the City Council floor and standing at former Mayor Harold Washington’s side.

“Toni voted against Daley’s disastrous parking meter deal, opposed Rahm’s school closings, stood up to the NRA, Trump on immigration, and politicians to expose the truth about Laquan McDonald,” the narrator says.

“Want a mayor who’ll fight for you? One candidate always has. Toni Preckwinkle. For Mayor.”

Long viewed as the frontrunner in the field of 14, Preckwinkle was knocked off her stride after being dragged into the burgeoning federal corruption scandal that threatens to bring down Ald. Edward Burke (14th).

Burke was charged with attempted extortion for allegedly muscling a Burger King franchise owner for legal business and for a $10,000 campaign contribution to Preckwinkle’s re-election campaign as county board president.

Preckwinkle has since returned the $116,000 she raised during a January 2018 fundraiser at Burke’s house.

But, she has struggled to explain why Burke’s son was promoted to a sensitive Homeland Security job with the county—after a personal appeal from the alderman—at a time when Edward Burke Jr. was under investigation for sexually inappropriate conversations at the sheriff’s office.

Preckwinkle has said she has “no access to the personnel files of separately-elected officials” and therefore had no idea at the time of that promotion that the alderman’s son was under investigation.

“If we’d known of the investigations, I wouldn’t have hired him,” she said.

Preckinkle hit the television airwaves last month with a first commercial that got her in more trouble.

Preckwinkle was lambasted — by competitors and community activists alike — for allegedly inflating her role in exposing the deadly police shooting of Laquan McDonald to distract attention from the $10,000 campaign contribution that Burke muscled for her from a Burger King franchise owner.

Her second commercial repeated the claim that she “took on the police department and politicians to expose the truth about Laquan McDonald.” But it also embraced her role as a “boss” with the guts to take on the old boys’ network, “because I always have.”

In her third commercial, Preckwinkle returned to her teaching roots — as “Mrs. Preckwinkle.”