Mayoral challenger Ald. Sophia King airs first campaign commercial

King entered the race with high hopes and a formidable reputation for fundraising for her City Council campaigns. But her fundraising for mayor has not gone well. Out of $739,000 raised, $350,000 is from her own household.

SHARE Mayoral challenger Ald. Sophia King airs first campaign commercial
Ald. Sophia King.

Ald. Sophia King, polling at 1%, said her own internal polling shows voters like her message of moderation and collaboration.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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With less than three weeks to go until the Feb. 28 mayoral election, Ald. Sophia King (4th) is finally on television with her first campaign commercial thanks to $350,000 from her own household.

King was chosen by just 1% of respondents in a new poll conducted last week for the Chicago Sun-Times, WBEZ, Telemundo Chicago and NBC5. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia led the field with 20%, followed by Paul Vallas at 18% and Mayor Lori Lightfoot at 17%.

A little further back were Willie Wilson at 12% and Brandon Johnson at 11%.

King has her own poll — conducted by Lester & Associates in mid-January — that she said shows a dramatically different result.

She starts at 8% and grows to 17% after voters are told about her experience and the message of moderation and political collaboration — what she calls, in the ad, “The power of AND.”

“You’ve got Chuy and Brandon who want to defund the police. You’ve got Willie and Paul who want law and order. … Our message is bringing people together and stopping the false narratives because people don’t want to ‘defund the police.’ And they don’t want ‘law and order.’ Those are fringe messages. Our poll shows that our message is resonating with people throughout the city and that, once our message gets out, we grow in all communities: Black, white and Latino,” King said.

“The electorate still wants a woman. … I’m the only other woman in the race. … I also have the track record of experience, of collaborating with people and getting things done. I’ve been able to show that over the last six-and-a-half years. This is not a time for somebody who is flying the plane and building it at the same time. We just did that and it didn’t work out well for us. The electorate is looking for stability, somebody who can bring us together and move Chicago forward and that’s what we’re offering.”

The commercial starts with King looking directly into the camera and holding her cellphone up with the timer on.

“When you call the police, you shouldn’t have to wait 30 minutes — no matter where you live,” King says in the ad, as she shows the elapsed time on her phone screen.

That’s followed by a series of shots showing her talking with constituents, looking at building plans, walking down a school hallway and returning to her teaching roots while standing at a classroom chalkboard.

“When we reject false choices, we can tackle today’s violence AND root causes. We can uplift our police AND hold them accountable. Revitalize our neighborhoods AND downtown. Prepare our kids for college AND the trades. We can have safety AND justice. That’s the power of AND.”

King entered the race with high hopes and a formidable reputation for campaign fundraising.

Her husband, a house music DJ and Chicago attorney, is a basketball-playing buddy of former President Barack Obama.

That is, in part, how she came to be appointed by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was Obama’s first White House chief of staff. It’s also how she outraised her four opponents in the February 2017 4th Ward special election by a nearly 6-to-1 margin.

But her fundraising for mayor has not lived up to that reputation.

She’s raised $739,000, but $350,000 of that is from her own household — $300,000 in loans, $50,000 in contributions. King calls that “skin in the game.”

“I just don’t have big interests behind me. I have people behind me. I have more [individual] funders in my campaign than anyone else,” she said.

“Chuy has one [major] backer. They’re a union that’s not even in Chicago. ... They want him to back an ordinance that would kill Black business and other unions. Johnson is backed by the teachers union and the Socialists. … We certainly don’t need the teachers union running the 5th floor.”

King said she hopes to continue raising money and have enough to stay on the air through the Feb. 28 election.

To those who believe it’s too little, too late, King pointed to the large number of undecided voters — and noted Lightfoot was at 3% at this juncture four years ago.

“Why would it be too late? It wasn’t too late then. To me, the race is wide open,” she said.

King is not the only member of the single-digit club with a new ad.

Community activist Ja’Mal Green, at 2% in the Sun-Times/WBEZ poll, has a modest buy of 12,000 plays on cable hammering home his message to young voters.

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