Photo of Kim Foxx, Cook County State's Attorney
Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, February 22, 2019, Chicago. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Much has been made of a new progressive era in Illinois politics, and a series of recent public remarks by elected Chicago officials formed a triptych of the promise and the problems of being a progressive leader at this time in Illinois.

“The vanguard for progressive policy all over this country” is what Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson called Illinois before a joint session of the state legislature last week. Relishing the standing ovations from both sides of the political aisle, from Chicagoans and from downstate lawmakers, Johnson sidestepped, for now, any mention of the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new taxes and spending he’ll be seeking from Springfield before long.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx declared victory for her progressive brand of justice before a City Club crowd packed Tuesday with admirers and staffers — and some skeptics, no doubt. Then she abruptly announced, 18 months before the next election, that she will not seek a third term.

And then there was outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who ran as a progressive reformer to win the job, then governed as a centrist, then paid a steep political price for the switch when voters rejected her at the polls.

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David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.