Chicago mayoral race: Lightfoot to lose re-election bid, CNN predicts as crime concerns rise



CNN

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her bid for a second term on Tuesday, failing to make it to the top-two runoff in the latest show of growing concerns about crime in one of the nation’s largest cities.

Paul Vallas, a longtime public schools superintendent who ran on a tough-on-crime message, and Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner backed by progressives and the Chicago Teachers Union, will advance to an April runoff in CNN projects.

Tuesday’s municipal election marked the first time in 40 years that Chicago has resigned its mayor. Lightfoot was unable to overcome years of battles with police and teachers unions, a spike in violent crime during her administration and Chicago’s slow recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lightfoot conceded Tuesday night, telling supporters that she is now “rooting and praying for the next mayor of Chicago.”

Vallas built his campaign around a pro-police, tough-on-crime message — one he emphasized in celebratory remarks after Lightfoot called on Vallas and Johnson to concede.

“We will have a safe Chicago. We’re going to make Chicago the safest city in America,” Vallas said.

The big question over the next five weeks is whether Vallas’ more conservative message will attract enough support to win in a city where nearly 83% of the vote in the 2020 presidential race went to the Democratic ticket.

Johnson, in his speech on Tuesday night, showed the first signs that he will seek to consolidate the liberals who supported other candidates in the nine-person field. He mentioned each candidate by name.

“If you voted for one of these other candidates, I want you to know that I’m running to be your mayor, too,” Johnson said.

Because no candidate is within 50 percent of Tuesday’s election, the top two of the nine candidates on the ballot advance to the April 4 runoff.

Lightfoot, the first black woman and the first gay man to serve as mayor of a major city often underrated by conservatives in national debates about violence and gun control, emerged as an aggressive reformer promising a break from corruption and club governance. long marked Chicago politics.

But years of contentious fights over policing, teacher pay and public safety policies for Covid-19, as well as growing complaints of long waits on Chicago’s public transit system, have left Lightfoot vulnerable, raising the startling prospect of a second city ​​to oust its current mayor. first round of voting.

Lightfoot found herself with few allies in her bid for a second term, and a number of powerful interests turned against her. The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Vallas. The Chicago Teachers Union endorsed Johnson. Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker, with whom Lightfoot clashed, dropped out of the race altogether.

More than 507,000 ballots had been cast by the close of polls Tuesday, Chicago elections officials said. More mail-in votes will be added to this total as they arrive.

Concerns about crime and public safety have rocked Chicago. Violence in the city soared in 2020 and 2021. And although shootings and murders have declined since then, other crimes — such as thefts, carjackings, robberies and burglaries — have increased since last year, according to the Chicago Police Department’s at the end of the year 2022 I am REPORTING.

The dynamic was similar to what has played out in other big city municipal elections in recent years. In New York, Mayor Eric Adams won with a pro-police, tough-on-crime message in 2021. But in Los Angeles, voters elected Rep. Karen Bass last year over billionaire developer Rick Caruso, who had raised $100 million in a campaign in which he had focused on a law and order pitch.

Chicago’s municipal elections are nonpartisan, but none of the candidates on Tuesday’s ballot call themselves Republicans. However, Lightfoot tried to portray Vallas in this way. She had attacked her record on crime early in the election campaign and had the support of the conservative police union.

Johnson, meanwhile, ate into Lightfoot’s support among progressives. He once advocated cutting police funding, but has backtracked on that message more recently, arguing that he meant he wanted to increase funding for other priorities, such as mental health treatment.

“Lori Lightfoot hasn’t made Chicago safer, but I will,” she said in one ad. “It’s time to get smart, not just tough.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

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