Few people would be shocked if the Windy City elected another Democrat as mayor. Yet this year’s campaign was notable for pitting two quite dissimilar Democrats against one another.
Former Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson won the mayor’s office following a run-off election on April 4. He defeated former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, a fellow Democrat.
Johnson, a senator from Vermont who is independent, who received Bernie Sanders’ support- a self-described democratic socialist, would succeed outgoing mayor Lori Lightfoot. Throughout her term, Lightfoot was accused of bullying and acting aggressively, which made her quite unpopular with the general population.
Lightfoot cited racism for her loss earlier this year when she fell short of the required number of votes to advance to the run-off and implied that the fact that she is black must be the cause. She has a black replacement. For the first time in 40 years, a Chicago mayor did not win re-election after Lightfoot’s loss.
She finished behind Johnson and Vallas in third place. The majority of commentators think her defeat was primarily caused by the city’s increasing crime rate. During her leadership, the crime and murder rates rose to unexpectedly high levels.
Chicago, long regarded as one of America’s murder capitals, saw its murder rate rise to 707 in only 2021, a 25-year high.
Johnson is more obviously a liberal than Vallas. Johnson received the support of the influential Chicago teacher’s union, which Vallas received from the police union and business associations, making it impossible for Johnson to compete in the staunchly Democratic city.
Johnson gained a majority in the general election in February after pulling ahead earlier in the race. If any of the candidates had received more than 50% of the vote, that election would have decided the mayor’s race. Nevertheless, none did, forcing a runoff on April 4.
According to local progressives, the mayor’s office is the highest post a current teacher’s union member has recently held.