By DuPage Policy Journal

Mark Rice, a candidate for the 8th Congressional District, has issued a press release strongly condemning Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s recent press conference, labeling it as “abhorrent” and accusing the mayor of playing the “race card” for political gain. Rice took issue with Mayor Johnson’s claim that ‘right-wing extremism’ was intentionally targeting Democrat-run cities led by people of color to create “disruption and chaos,” describing this stance as a divisive tactic. 

“It is of importance we speak out and point out to Mayor Johnson that the Republican Party has proposed solutions to the multiple issues facing Chicago, but remains a minority voice in the city where Democrats have declared ‘sanctuary city’ status,“ Rice said in the release.

He stated that the crisis in the city cannot be solved until leadership admits the problems and stops using the “race card” and “dog whistle politics.”

Rice is currently campaigning for representation of Illinois’ 8th Congressional District, which encompasses northern Cook County, northern DuPage County and northeast Kane County. The position is presently filled by U.S. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, a member of the Democratic Party.

Rice’s comments come after Johnson criticized “right-wing extremism,” accusing it of intentionally targeting Democratic-run cities, particularly those led by people of color, to create “disruption and chaos.”  The mayor’s remarks were delivered amid challenges related to the city’s illegal immigrant crisis, which Johnson attributed to his predecessor, former Mayor Lori Lightfoot, according to Fox News. He discussed efforts to address the crisis, including the construction of Chicago’s first government-run migrant tent encampment and collaboration with churches for shelter.

“What we’ve seen is a very raggedy form of right-wing extremism,” Johnson said. “Everyone knows that the right-wing extremism in this country has targeted democratically-run cities, and quite frankly, they have been quite intentional about going after democratically-ran cities that are led by people of color. And their whole motivation is to create disruption and chaos.”

Johnson addressed measures undertaken to tackle this crisis such as establishing Chicago’s first government-run migrant tent camp and initiating partnerships with local churches for providing sheltering facilities. He reiterated his views on right-wing extremism stating: “Everyone knows that the right-wing extremism in this country has targeted democratically-run cities… their whole motivation is to create disruption and chaos.”

A recent survey conducted by Echelon Insights on behalf of the Illinois Policy Institute showed Mayor Johnson’s approval rating sinking at 28%. The poll, carried out from Oct. 18 to 22, also demonstrated that half of the respondents disapproved of the Mayor’s performance, while approximately one in five remained undecided. Johnson’s handling of several key issues such as crime and public safety, housing and homelessness, and management of the migrant issue drew significant criticism—with two-thirds of polled voters expressing dissatisfaction. These results portend considerable challenges for Johnson as he grapples with low public support and negative perception.

Controversy erupted just a few weeks prior when Carlos Ramirez-Rosa—Johnson’s former floor leader—resigned amidst accusations of misconduct. This included allegations of physical and verbal harassment directed at Alderman Emma Mitts during a City Council meeting over discussions about introducing a referendum on the March ballot to revoke the city’s “Sanctuary City” status due to an influx of illegal immigrants—a story covered by Chicago City Wire. This incident was criticized by the Chicago Aldermanic Black Caucus who described Ramirez-Rosa’s behavior as unacceptable and unbefitting his position while demanding his resignation, a public apology to Mitts, and a commitment towards better conduct.

The ongoing debate has been heated against the backdrop of extensive public aid provided to illegal immigrants by the Chicago City Council and Illinois State Government—actions that have sparked tension within Chicago’s Black community. During a city council meeting earlier this year, concerns were raised about an increasing number of migrants in traditionally black neighborhoods leading to perceived neglect of local inhabitants resulting in debates over resource distribution and how the situation was being managed. One resident Jessica Jackson voiced her displeasure with the Chicago City Council for seemingly prioritizing resources for incoming migrants over long-standing residents and taxpayers in need stating: “In the words of Malcolm X, we have been hoodwinked, run amuck, bamboozled, by sitting here thinking that these Black politicians are helping us.”