Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her bid for a second term Tuesday, failing to make a top-two runoff in the latest demonstration of growing concerns about crime in one of the nation’s largest cities. Paul Vallas, a long-time public schools chief 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 the April runoff, CNN projects. Tuesday’s municipal election marked the first time in more than 30 years that Chicago has ditched its mayor. Lightfoot could not overcome years of fights with the police and teachers’ unions, a spike in violent crime during her administration and Chicago’s slow recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Vallas built his campaign around a pro-police, tough-on-crime message – one he highlighted in celebratory remarks after Lightfoot had called Vallas and Johnson to concede. Johnson, in his speech Tuesday night, showed the first signs that he will seek to consolidate liberals who supported other candidates in the nine-person field. He cited each candidate by name. Because no candidate is on course to top 50% in Tuesday’s election, the top two of the nine candidates on the ballot are moving on to the April 4 runoff. Lightfoot, the first Black woman and first out gay person to serve as mayor in a city often pilloried by conservatives in national debates over violence and gun control, rose to prominence as a pugnacious reformer promising a break from the corruption and clubby governance that had long marked Chicago politics. But years of contentious brawls over policing, teacher pay and Covid-19 public safety policies, as well as mounting complaints about long waits in Chicago’s public transit system, left Lightfoot vulnerable, raising the stunning prospect of the Second City ousting its incumbent mayor in the first round of voting. Lightfoot found herself with few allies in her bid for a second term, and a host of powerful interests aligned against her. The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Vallas. The Chicago Teachers Union backed Johnson. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, with whom Lightfoot has clashed, stayed out of the race entirely. More than 507,000 ballots had been cast by the time polls closed Tuesday, Chicago elections officials said. More mail-in votes will be added to that total as they arrive. Concerns about crime and public safety have rattled Chicago. Violence in the city spiked in 2020 and 2021. And though shootings and murders have decreased since then, other crimes – including theft, car-jacking, robberies and burglaries – have increased since last year, according to the Chicago Police Department’s 2022 year-end report. The dynamic has been similar to what played out in other big-city mayoral elections in recent years. In New York City, 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 pumped $100 million into a campaign in which he had focused on a pitch for law and order.
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