‘Too Important’: McCarthy’s Wife Talks Being Thrust Into Chicago Politics

Chicago attorney Kristin Barnette says she never went looking for politics. But even after she married Garry McCarthy in 2014 — then superintendent of the Chicago Police Department and now a candidate for mayor — she wasn’t quite keen on the idea of her husband seeking elected office. 

“I think for a while I tried to ignore it,” Barnette told NBC 5, “but then when it was clear that things were building up and there was a path to success, it was time to make sure that I supported Garry in this.” 

“She’s obviously my greatest support system,” McCarthy said, adding that would have never run for mayor without her being onboard. 

When asked why she’d said yes, Barnette replied: “This is too important.” 

McCarthy formally announced his campaign for mayor earlier this month, declaring he was running to save “a great American city” from rampant crime and ballooning taxes. The Bronx native and self-described “conservative Democrat” worked as Chicago’s top cop for four years before being dismissed in 2015 by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the aftermath of the Laquan McDonald shooting. 

With more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, McCarthy has honed in on solving what he knows best: crime. As an attorney, his wife is no stranger to the legal system either. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, McCarthy and Barnette jokingly called themselves “Law and Order” after they were married in 2014. 

Public safety has emerged as one of the staple issues of the McCarthy campaign. The couple described being able to hear gunshots from their home in River North in an apartment they share with their year and a half-old son, Kiernan, just blocks away. 

At the same time, political strategist Del Marie Cobb says the biggest hurdle for McCarthy will be his role in the Laquan McDonald case and the video showing Officer Jason Van Dyke shot the unarmed teenager 16 times.

“There is no escaping the Laquan McDonald video," Cobb said. "There’s no escaping it for Garry McCarthy. And there’s certainly no escaping it for Rahm Emanuel.”

Nevertheless, McCarthy said he’ll run an policy-focused campaign, compared to his main rival Emanuel. 

“The mayor’s strategy is going to be to attack and distract,” McCarthy said. “Because his performance is dismal. His performance is dismal. If he wants to talk about the issues, he’s in a lot of trouble.”

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