Chicago Mayor Candidate Backed by Police Makes It to Runoff
Bloomberg 2hrs ago

(Bloomberg) -- Chicago’s mayoral elections is headed for a runoff, with a former head of the city’s school system leading the race.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Paul Vallas, who gained support from the business community and the police by pledging to fight crime, has secured a spot in the runoff, according to the the Associated Press. It’s still unclear which of the other eight candidates he will face — a field that includes current Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot — on April 4. 

Under the city’s nonpartisan mayoral election rules, if no candidate meets the 50% threshold, the two highest vote-getters advance to a second round. A crowded race, low turnout and a large number of mail-in ballots means that getting the final tally may be a lengthy process.

Vallas, 69, raised more than $6 million for his campaign and is the only White candidate. He benefited from a crowded field with seven Black candidates, including Lightfoot, 60, and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, 46, dividing votes among that key demographic group. Latinos are widely expected to have leaned toward US Representative Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, 66.

See also: Chicago crime defines mayor race as spending, lawbreaking surge

Lightfoot, who has seen her popularity wane since taking office in 2019, has struggled to keep crime under control in the third-biggest US city. She has also faced a slow recovery from the pandemic and the high-profile departures of Citadel and Boeing Co. If she doesn’t make it to the runoff, she’ll be the first incumbent to lose a reelection bid in 40 years.

“The spike in shootings has been enormously damaging to her and the concerns about crime,” said John Mark Hansen, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, before the election. “That’s something that Vallas has been hammering on again and again and again.”

Rising Violence

Crime incidents jumped 41% last year and are up 33% since 2019. At the same time, the city’s number of police officers has fallen 12% since 2019 as the pandemic sparked a wave of retirements. Even so, the Chicago police budget ballooned to a record $1.9 billion for 2023.

Solving that conundrum while keeping spending in check and simultaneously addressing concerns around police brutality against Black residents will likely be a key hurdle for the final winner of the race.

Billionaire Ken Griffin cited violence as one of the reasons for moving his hedge fund to Florida, while McDonald’s Corp. Chief Executive Officer Chris Kempczinski told the Economic Club of Chicago last year that it had become harder to attract talent to the Windy City.

Vallas has pledged to boost police ranks, overhaul a scheduling system that’s prompted burnout and give officers local beats to better connect with communities. He has also earned the support of many business leaders, with Citadel Chief Operating Officer Gerald Beeson recently inviting him to speak at a private function at the fund’s building, according to a person familiar with the event.

The former schools chief gained a runoff spot even as he was criticized after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican with presidential aspirations, gave a speech for the Fraternal Order of the Police, a union that endorsed him. He also was criticized for liking racists tweets, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis. He later said his account was hacked.

--With assistance from Bill Allison, Brad Skillman, Aradhana Aravindan and Tarso Veloso.

(Adds academic quote in sixth paragraph)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

Show More
Latest News