Preckwinkle: Pulling plug on TV ads in final days of race a ‘strategic’ decision

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U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (right) endorsed Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle for mayor Tuesday at a news conference on the West Side. Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) is at left. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

Toni Preckwinkle said Tuesday she pulled her television commercials with less than two weeks to go because she’s making “strategic decisions to put us in the best place to win” the April 2 mayoral runoff.

The Sun-Times first reported on Monday that the Preckwinkle campaign will be “totally dark” for the crucial home stretch of the historic race.

To some, abandoning the airwaves so late in a campaign is akin to throwing in the towel. Either that or a campaign is out of money.

On Tuesday, Preckwinkle refused to pinpoint her reasons for yanking her commercials just as her opponent Lori Lightfoot purchased $300,000 in TV time through Thursday alone to air a closing ad featuring her 11-year-old daughter.

“We’re making strategic decisions to put us in the best place to win this campaign,” Preckwinkle said.

She repeated the answer verbatim when asked whether her campaign was out of money.

Eddie Read, chairman of the Black Independent Political Organization,  said he’s not concerned about Lightfoot’s fundraising advantage, avalanche of recent endorsements or about internal polling that shows Lightfoot headed for a landslide victory on April 2.

“The people on the ground — rural white folks — voted for Donald Trump. They didn’t say anything about it. That’s what’s gonna happen here in the black community. There’s a silent majority. This time, the silent majority is black,” Read said Tuesday.

“Toni has come before the people for 25 years. They didn’t reject her in the last 25 years. Why reject her now?…The people on the street are saying, ‘We know this woman.’ They don’t want to incur the wrath of speaking against Lori for a lot of different reasons. But, Toni Preckwinkle is the right person for this job.”

The County Board president did have some good news on Tuesday, picking up the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis.

Davis’ dad used to say, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear about it any day.”

On Tuesday, the West Side congressman with the baritone fit for a preacher used his father’s argument to make the case for endorsing Preckwinkle over Lightfoot.

Lightfoot has portrayed herself as a change agent in a change election dominated by the burgeoning City Hall corruption scandal.

But Davis argued that a vote for Lightfoot would be a risk voters cannot afford to take at a perilous time when Chicago is facing a $1.2 billion spike in pension payments and other intransigent problems.

“Would you rather take a chance for an individual who has been a great prosecutor, a well-learned individual, an outstanding attorney, a great litigator, skilled professional in the courthouse, but never been elected to anything?” Davis said of Lightfoot.

“It’s great to be a great choir member. You can sing in the choir. But, it’s something else to stand behind that podium every Sunday and try and reach the people. You can talk about what it might feel like to be there. But having the experience of doing it is very different.”

After 19 years as alderman and eight more as county board president, Davis said he would rather “bet on” Preckwinkle.

“She has accomplishments she can point to — not just speculation. Not just what I’d like to see. … I know she can make it happen. She’s already done it,” Davis said.

“My daddy taught us that it’s difficult to lead where you don’t go. And it’s difficult to teach what you don’t know. He was fond of saying, ‘I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day. I’d rather that you show me how to do it because you’ve already led the way.’”

Flanked by scores of elected officials and religious leaders at the JLM Center, 2622 W. Jackson, Davis said he’s talked to Preckwinkle about how the West Side has been “shortchanged” for decades.

“She has said to us, ‘I know what you’re talking about. But you can be assured that the West Side of Chicago will get the treatment that it deserves’” if she is elected mayor, Davis said.

Michael Eaddy, pastor of the Peoples’ Church of the Harvest in East Garfield Park, said Chicago needs “strong, bold, courageous, fearless proven leadership” — not inexperience.

“I want to close with this statement I learned from a wise old preacher. He said, `Ain’t been there. Cain’t tell been there how to get there.’ We have a person who has been there,” Eaddy said.

Preckwinkle vowed to focus like a laser on “growth and opportunity” if she is elected mayor.

“We need to invest in the neighborhoods … and we particularly need to invest in the neighborhoods of the West Side of Chicago that have struggled for so long,” she said.

“We’ve focused a lot on downtown, which is right, but not enough on our neighborhoods. And we cannot have a world-class city unless we have strong neighborhoods.”

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