Lori Lightfoot is ready to move from one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s problem solvers to one of his political opponents.
"This really is about Rahm Emanuel," she said Wednesday in an exclusive television interview with NBC 5. "Rahm Emanuel has a long record of public service, a long record."
Lightfoot has a record of public service too — she lead the Chicago Police Board — as well as the task force to examine police accountability after the Laquan McDonald shooting.
She hasn’t spoken to Emanuel since last August.
“He has no interest in my opinion about anything, but frankly in that regard, I’m no different than lots of people who could offer significant help on a range of issues,” she said.
Lightfoot was raised in Ohio, came from very modest means, earned a full ride to the University of Chicago Law School to become a federal prosecutor and is now a partner at Mayer Brown.
Emanuel’s campaign team notes when she was the lead on finding Garry McCarthy’s replacement as police superintendent, they say her choices fell flat and were ignored.
Lightfoot responds, it was a committee decision and “our city was up for grabs, he fired a police superintendent, the Department of Justice was starting a pattern and practice investigation--my colleagues and I on the police board had to beg people just to apply.” She also notes “we spent months pouring over records, working to check backgrounds, and we came up with three people, who by the way had a proven track record of integrity and excellence and independence.”
It’s a crowded field anxious to challenge Emanuel — besides Lightfoot — Garry McCarthy, Paul Vallas, Troy LaRaviere, Willie Wilson, Dorothy Brown, Neal Sales Griffin, and Ja'Mal Green. Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer is likely to join them.
Some see Lightfoot as a woman, black and gay as a triple threat. Her priorities — public safety, schools and taxes “not being Rahm Emanuel isn’t enough, you have to somebody that people truly believe.”
Lightfoot adds she expects Emanuel to raise record amounts of campaign funds, as he did in 2015 when he raised more than $24 million.
Still, she’s convinced she has a path to victory.