Chicago Mayor 2023

Former Education Sec. Arne Duncan Says He Won't Challenge Lightfoot in Chicago Mayoral Race

Plenty of potential candidates, including State Rep. LaShawn Ford and CTU President Jesse Sharkey, could still jump into the race

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Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the highest-profile potential candidate to make a run at unseating Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, will not jump into the race, announcing Tuesday that he will instead focus on working with his non-profit.

“After a lot of thought, I have decided that I will not be running for mayor, but will work with anyone serious about making our city safer,” he said in a statement.

Duncan, who also served as the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, was ahead of Lightfoot in a head-to-head contest according to internal polling, but said that he will instead focus on working with the group Create Real Economic Diversity (CRED) in their efforts to combat violence in the city.

“I am exactly where I need to be, doing the work I love. I have never been part of a more courageous and committed team,” he said. “The best way I can serve our city is to stay laser-focused on reducing gun violence and stay engaged at our sites, on the streets and in the lives of our participants.”

Duncan says that the mayorship of Chicago is a difficult position, especially during a time when crime rate are under an exacting microscope.

“It’s absolutely a tough job, and it’s a critically important job. I could’ve loved that job. I just love what I’m doing right now,” he said.

Even with Duncan’s departure from the race, there are still plenty of other potential candidates that could take Lightfoot on. That list includes State Reps. LaShawn Ford and Kam Buckner, former CPS CEO Paul Vallas, current Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey, as well as Fraternal Order of Police leader John Catanzara.

“To say that I’m not interested in being the mayor of the city of Chicago would not be honest,” Ford said. “I do understand that I have a lot of lived experiences to connect with people not only on the West Side and the South Side, but the whole city.”

As for Lightfoot herself, she says she intends to run for a second term in office, and with Duncan now out of the race, the playing field is rapidly changing.

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