Toni Preckwinkle, dropping out of the mayoral race and breaking hearts.
  • Chandler West/Sun-Times Media
  • Toni Preckwinkle, dropping out of the mayoral race and breaking hearts.

I must confess: that anguished moan you probably heard yesterday at about 2:30 in the afternoon was from me.

That’s when I got the call from Mick Dumke telling me that Toni Preckwinkle was dropping out of the mayoral race.

Actually, I shouldn’t say she was dropping out because she never officially got into the race in the first place.

It just seemed like she was in it because as everyone begged her to run, she never said she wasn’t going to. I think I may have been one of the first beggars.


By the way, if it seems as though Mick is always the one breaking the big news to me, that’s because he generally is. Unless the news is weather related. Then it’s my mother.

Even Tom Skilling doesn’t know weather news like my mom.

If you recall, Mick was the one who told me Karen Lewis was thinking about jumping into the mayoral race. That news got me so excited I started singing “We Are the Champions.”

After hearing the news about Toni, however, I immediately raced through the five stages of grief:

Denial: Maybe Mick got it wrong. Yeah, that’s it. He could have misheard. Or maybe it’s just a rumor. Or it could be disinformation put out by Mayor Rahm’s operatives. Those little weasels are always putting out spin like that. Toni couldn’t be such a wimp . . .

Anger: Toni is such a wimp! She’s up 55 to 31 in the latest Sun-Times poll. The voters are practically begging her to be their mayor, and she won’t do it because she’d rather run the county? Are you kidding me? Nobody gives a shit about the county! Everyone wants to be mayor! You wussed out, you little . . .

And Rahm—that stubby little school-closing, clinic-shutting, tax-breaks-to-rich-people-giving, sorry sack of a . . .

While I’m at it—the white voters of Chicago are so freaking dainty that they can’t quite bring themselves to consider voting for Karen Lewis. Just like they couldn’t quite bring themselves to vote for Harold Washington. Or just about any black candidate who didn’t go to the University of Chicago.

Then there are the black voters of Chicago—nice job voting for Rahm in that last election!

And you know what? I’m pissed at the Tribune‘s editorial board—because they always give me reasons to be pissed at them.

Bargaining: Hey, maybe if I’m nice, Toni will reconsider. She’ll be like, “You know, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I can’t possibly pass up.”

So Toni—forget everything I just said about you being a wimp. You’re really strong—like the Rock of Gibraltar. If you will run, I’ll even say you were right and I was wrong about bringing the Olympics to Chicago . . .

Depression: This sucks! And now here’s yet another e-mail from a Rahm supporter: “Ha, ha, ha. We got all the money!”

Actually, I’m starting to think that may have come from Mayor Rahm himself.

And now the phone is ringing again—the latest call from someone reminding me that I’d foolishly bet them lunch that Toni would run.

Like a certain Frank Coconate—who eats like a horse when I’m footing the bill. Frank wrote to say: “I told you she was a tool for John Daley.”

Deeper depression: Four more years of Mayor Rahm closing schools and doling out charter contracts and staging press conferences, where he says only he has the guts to make tough choices like taking money from schools and giving it to gazillionaires. Four more years! Noooo!!!

Acceptance: You know, Toni really isn’t all that much of a progressive. I mean, the only reason any of us wanted her to run is because we knew she would have beat Rahm. Hell, Rahm knows she would have beat Rahm, which is why he undoubtedly did everything he could to muscle her out of the race.

But once in office she’d probably be just as bad as Rahm, only a little more pleasant.

And there are still other potential candidates to consider.

There’s Karen Lewis and Robert Shaw and Amara Enyia and Robert Fioretti.

C’mon, Alderman Fioretti—don’t you chicken out, too.

And, remember: we have a run-off system for electing mayor. You can vote for any one of these candidates and it’s just like voting against Mayor Close The Schools. Your vote for, oh, Robert Shaw keeps Mayor Close The Clinics from getting more than 50 percent of the total vote.

That means the top two vote-getters would face off. And you could actually defeat Mayor Marriott himself.

If I repeat this runoff stuff enough, sooner or later even Chicago’s voters—not the brightest bulbs in the world—will catch on. Just like with the TIFs.

So all is not lost, right? We can still be that little engine that could, even as Mayor Raise Money From Rich People brings in more loot.

Really, nothing has changed. It’s still up to you, Chicago.

You can’t expect Toni to save you from the mistake you made in the last mayoral election. Sooner or later you’re going to have to do the hard work yourself.