CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her re-election bid Tuesday, ending her historic run as the city’s first black woman and first openly gay person to hold office.
Lightfoot, a Democrat, failed to get enough votes in the nine-person race to advance to a runoff election on April 4, according to projections by The Associated Press.
Paul Vallas, former CEO of Chicago schools, will face Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner backed by the Chicago Teachers Union.
Ideologically, the choice between Vallas and Johnson is a stark one. Vallas ran as a moderate pro-law and order candidate, while Johnson ran with an unabashedly progressive agenda.
But Chicagoans sent a message that they wanted change, rejecting both an incumbent mayor and sitting congressman. Lightfoot is the first sitting Chicago mayor-elect to lose re-election since 1983, when Jane Byrne, the city’s first female mayor, lost her primary.
Lightfoot conceded Tuesday night at his party in downtown Chicago, saying, «Obviously we didn’t win today’s election, but I stand here with my head held high.»
Lightfoot has been haunted by persistent crime, which has been a major concern among Chicagoans. Crime spiked during his tenure, though she has repeatedly touted that it was down year-over-year in 2022.
Vallas was widely expected to emerge from the first round of voting as he built his campaign around a tough-on-crime issue and garnered support on the city’s vote-rich North and Northwest sides. He also earned the endorsement of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police.
“We will have a safe Chicago. We will make Chicago the safest city in America,” she said Tuesday night.
It’s a bitter end to a tumultuous tenure for Lightfoot, who quickly developed an image as a national lightning rod for conservatives and repeatedly clashed with institutional interests, from the Chicago Teachers Union to the media and police. She has at times been praised for her handling of the pandemic, but has seen violent unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
Lightfoot faced great odds and was in danger of an early re-election knockout. Having lost the support he once had in Chicago’s lakefront neighborhoods and with the major unions working against him, he was among seven black candidates vying for votes among the city’s black population. He faced stiff competition, particularly from Johnson, who had the backing and organizational benefits of the powerful Chicago Teachers Union, as well as Willie Wilson, a black businessman who had led Johnson in the polls. .
light-footed unfavorable ratings have skyrocketed with Chicagoans fed up with gun violence as well as robberies and carjackings. And despite being the acting mayor, she usually did not lead recent polls, falling behind Vallas and Democratic representative Jesús «Chuy» García. Later in the election, he specifically targeted Johnson, which many saw as a sign that his internal numbers showed him to be a growing threat.
On the subject of crime, under Lightfoot, Chicago in 2021 recorded the most murders in a quarter century, 797 and more than 3,500 shootings, 1,400 more than those recorded in 2019, when Lightfoot first took office. Lightfoot has made a point of noting that violence had subsided by the end of last year.
But that hasn’t eased anxiety among Chicagoans. TO recent survey said 63% of Chicagoans said they did not feel safe.