CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot came out swinging Thursday against the candidate who may pose the greatest threat to her reelection bid.
Recent polls suggest Chuy Garcia may be the current front-runner in the race.
ABC7 Political Reporter talked with Mayor Lightfoot in an exclusive one-on-one interview about the race and the key issues in her fight to win a second term.
Mayor Lightfoot has said on a number of occasions that she is not concerned about who's running against her. But in her conversation with ABC7, her tone seemed to change regarding Garcia, suggesting she considers his campaign a significant challenge.
Wall: "Is Chuy Garcia the front runner and are you as an incumbent running as an underdog?
Lightfoot: "Look. First of all, I'm a Black woman. I'm always running as an underdog, let's just be clear about that."
Wall: "What is your path to getting into the runoff?"
Lightfoot: "Well I think a couple of things, number one I got to make sure that I continue to be in neighborhoods all over the city."
It was clear, one rival is on the forefront of her mind and she went on the attack.
"If he's the front runner, God bless. Then make him act like a front runner. He's got to stand before the cameras and answer questions," Lightfoot said. "You look at somebody like Chuy Garcia -- nice guy but he has no business being the mayor of our city. Forty plus years as a public servant, name his one signature accomplishment."
Lightfoot also called for Garcia to answer questions about money his congressional campaign received from the now-indicted head of FTX crypto.
Lightfoot welcomed the company to Chicago during a ribbon cutting in May and touted the company's plan to help fund a guaranteed income program. But four months later, FTX moved to Miami.
"Obviously, they haven't delivered, but I didn't take money," the mayor said. "I didn't have a personal meeting with the head of -- this guy who's now an indicted fraudster. Chuy Garcia has to answer the question. He has a personal relationship with his company and he took money from him. And I think Chicagoans deserve to understand the nature of that."
Garcia's campaign said he had nothing to do with the independent expenditures by FTX's founder and has advocated for tighter regulation as a member of the house committee that regulates crypto currency.
Lightfoot talked with ABC7 as she was touring the Plumbers Local 130 training facility, getting the endorsement from the union, who was first to support her four years ago.
"We have survived the pandemic because of her leadership and I believe with all these big jobs coming the casino -- Neighborhood 78, Bronzeville, Lincoln Yards -- the mayor gets it that we need to build Chicago," said Jim Coyne, business manager for Plumbers Local 130.
Lightfoot said her top priority is public safety and she dismissed rivals who have recently been touting their own safety plans.
"Anybody who tells you there's an easy solution to crime -- fire the superintendent, do this or do that -- they're not being honest and they either don't know about public safety or they're not being honest," Lightfoot said. "we've got challenges no question about it, but we are aggressively going after it every single day. Chicagoans rightfully will hold me accountable for everything that I do. Obviously public safety being one of them."
Despite missing the first mayoral forum earlier this week, as did Garcia, Lightfoot said she is committed to taking part in debates.
The campaign trail will probably be fairly quiet through the holidays but after the first of the year, things will really begin heating up with Lightfoot expected to face increasing attacks from her many challengers.