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Lightfoot presidential endorsement: Likely not Sanders, Warren or Biden

On Friday, Chicago’s mayor will boycott Trump’s White House meeting with mayors; will attend his impeachment trial instead

Mayor Lori Lightfoot flanked by Illinois Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin and other Illinois mayors.
Photo courtesy of Sen. Dick Durbin’s office

WASHINGTON — Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democratic progressive, is going to make a presidential endorsement before the March 17 Illinois primary, and after talking to her on Thursday, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to go to progressive rivals Sens. Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

“Apparently not progressive enough for them,” Lightfoot said.

I asked her to tell me more.

“It is what it is. They haven’t reached out. They’ve been to Chicago. They were very supportive of the Chicago Teachers Union strike but didn’t feel it was necessary to talk to the new black LGBTQ mayor.”

Warren, from Massachusetts, and Sanders, from Vermont, sent Lightfoot a message with their lack of reaching out about an endorsement when they were in Chicago. The attitude coming from them was “Why bother?” Lightfoot said.

The same could be said of former Vice President Joe Biden, who, Lightfoot said, also never got in touch even though he’s been in Chicago multiple times for fundraising since he’s been in the race.

“I’m certainly not endorsing somebody that has never bothered to reach out. So the other person that I haven’t heard from directly is Biden,” Lightfoot said.

Illinois, with its 184 elected delegates, may play a role in picking the 2020 nominee if the February early vote states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — do not cull the field and yield a solid frontrunner. Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s entire strategy rests on ignoring the February states and making a strong showing in March.

Lightfoot met with Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., before they dropped their 2020 bids. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Bloomberg huddled with Lightfoot on Chicago visits. She spoke on the phone with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., before he quit the race, as well as ex-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who was raised on Chicago’s South Side.

In December, Lightfoot interviewed former South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg at an event organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and an allied research group, Accelerator for America Action in Waterloo, Iowa, the state with the first presidential vote on Feb. 3.

I asked Lightfoot what she is looking for in a Democratic nominee.

“Well, number one, I’m looking for somebody that I think truly has a shot at beating Trump because the idea of four more years of … Trump is incredibly frightening to me. So that’s number one for me. Obviously, I’m looking for somebody whose values align with mine.

“I think the American people are incrementalists. We’re not looking for revolution.

“We’re looking for somebody who is practical, who’s speaking to the values of the person, who’s worrying about whether they have a paycheck, whether they’re gonna be able to take care of their kids, may have savings, build a future, and somebody who is going to be smart and able and put together a good team to take on the challenges that Americans are facing.

“But I think also for me as a mayor, I’m looking for somebody who recognizes that mayors, and particularly big city mayors, touch the lives of more Americans on a day-to-day basis than anybody else, and that the direct delivery of services to our people is critically important every single day.”

The Lightfoot bread crumbs seem to be leading to Klobuchar, Bloomberg or Buttigieg.

The mayor is in Washington until Friday to attend the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. She made a swing to the Capitol to meet with Illinois Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth with other Illinois mayors.

Will boycott Trump White House meeting with mayors; will attend his impeachment trial instead

On Friday, President Donald Trump will address the nation’s mayors at the White House.

Lightfoot won’t go.

“I respect the office of the presidency, but I could not be in Donald Trump’s presence and hold my tongue particularly about the things that he said that are so disparaging of Chicago that are factually inaccurate and offensive.

“I certainly could not hold my tongue in being silent about the things that he’s done to really terrorize and destabilize our immigrant refugee communities. The list kind of goes on and on. So rather than go there and have that fight in public — and out of respect and deference for the conference as well — it’s best for me to stay away.”

And you’ll spend the time at his Senate impeachment trial instead?

Said Lightfoot, “Yes.”