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Progressive Brandon Johnson narrowly wins Chicago's mayoral seat

With policing a central issue in the election, Chicago voters opted for the candidate who pledged a more "holistic approach" toward addressing crime.
Progressive Brandon Johnson narrowly wins Chicago's mayoral seat
Posted at 7:43 AM, Apr 05, 2023

In what appears to be the closest Chicago mayoral race in four decades, Brandon Johnson is the projected winner over Paul Vallas in Chicago’s mayoral race. Johnson was leading Vallas by about 3 percentage points with 91% of the vote in. 

Both candidates have been actively involved in Chicago’s schools. Johnson was a teacher and teacher union organizer prior to becoming a Cook County commissioner in 2018. Vallas was formerly the CEO of Chicago Public Schools. 

Although both candidates in Tuesday’s race are Democrats, Johnson was considered the more progressive candidate between the two. Johnson had the backing of many national liberals, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. 

Vallas most notably had the support of the local Fraternal Order of Police. Vallas made crime a key issue, claiming that Johnson supports defunding the police. The claims come as Chicago has seen a spike in homicides since 2016 after the city’s homicide rate fell during the late 1990s and 2000s. 

Johnson fought back on those claims, telling the Block Club he would take a “holistic approach” toward safety. 

SEE MORE: Public safety debate fuels voters ahead of Chicago election

In his victory speech, Johnson referenced police officers, among others. 

"We have ushered in a new chapter in the history of our city,” Johnson said. “The truth is the people have always worked for Chicago, whether you wake up early to open the doors of your businesses or teach middle school or wear a badge to protect our streets or nurse patients in need or provide child care services. You have always worked for this city, and now Chicago will begin to work for its people, all the people."

Vallas said the close results showed a divided city.

"I'm honored and humbled by all of your support. I ran for mayor to bring the city together, and it's clear based on the results tonight that the city is deeply divided,” he said. 

Johnson and Vallas advanced to Tuesday’s runoff after emerging as the top two candidates in a jungle primary that included the defeat of current Mayor Lori Lightfoot