Chicago Fired: Lightfoot Loses, Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson to Compete in April Runoff

Chicago voters overwhelmingly rejected Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s bid for a second term as moderate ex-schools chief Paul Vallas and progressive lawmaker Brandon Johnson advanced to the April runoff election.


Chicago voters overwhelmingly rejected Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s bid for a second term as moderate ex-schools chief Paul Vallas and progressive lawmaker Brandon Johnson advanced to the April runoff election.

  • Lightfoot mustered a mere 17% of the vote in Chicago’s nonpartisan general election, finishing in third place behind Vallas (34%) and Johnson (20%). Nearly 83% of Chicagoans voted against Lightfoot in Tuesday’s election, a brutal rebuke for a mayor who won every ward in the 2019 runoff.
  • “Obviously, we didn’t win the election today, but I stand here with my head held high,” Lightfoot told her supporters at an election night rally.
  • Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch both announced that they would be resigning their positions on the day after Lightfoot’s defeat.
  • Vallas, the leading candidate in the first round, is running on improving Chicago schools and reducing crime in part by hiring 2,000 more police officers. Crime has been central to Vallas’ message, and his campaign site even as a section where people can “Share your crime story.”
  • Johnson, a Cook County commissioner, also works for the Chicago Teachers Union, which bankrolled his campaign. Johnson’s “ardent progressivism, including his outspoken skepticism of policing as the answer to rising crime, could make him toxic to Democrats with national ambitions, including Illinois’ billionaire governor, J.B. Pritzker,” reported the New York Times.
  • Vallas and Johnson traded barbs on the first day of the runoff campaign. “Vallas is being dishonest and he’s lying to the people of Chicago,” said Johnson per WGN9. “Brandon’s going to have to answer for his long advocacy for defunding the police,” said Vallas.
  • Johnson and other candidates have attacked Vallas as too conservative for Chicago and for accepting an endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police.
  • As Wednesday’s statement made clear, the Vallas campaign plans to make Johnson’s 2020 defense of defunding the police as not merely a slogan but “an actual real political goal” central to their runoff campaign.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • CNN noted that Lightfoot’s combative persona appears to have contributed to her downfall as she proceeded to feud with most major interest groups in Chicago during her time in office including key unions, the state legislature and the city council.
  • NBC News noted that Chicago’s crime surge peaked in 2021 when the city recorded the most homicides in 25 years, 797, and 3,500 shootings, more than double the 2019 numbers when Lightfoot took over as mayor. Homicides may have declined slightly in 2022, but a 63% majority of Chicagoans said they did not feel safe in a recent poll.
  • Vox’s Christian Paz argued the election results demonstrate that “Democrats still have a crime problem.” Paz wrote the spike in violent crime in Chicago is just a continuation of a trend seen in many Democratic-controlled cities where crime surged in 2021 and 2022. In New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, voters’ concerns about crime elevated the issue to the forefront.


  • Chicago’s low voter turnout rate of 32 percent is a “harbinger of civic despair,” wrote Jeffrey Blehar at National Review. Whether or not voters paying attention, “the future of the city is actually at stake this time,” Blehar warned. “I know the Chicago Teachers Union (of whom Brandon Johnson is a wholly owned subsidiary) and their activist cadres realize that. I hope the rest of the city does as well.”
  • White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refused to comment on the Chicago mayoral election on Wednesday according to Fox News. Jean-Pierre then appeared to blame Republicans for “taking steps she suggested contributed to rising crime.”
  • The Wall Street Journal explored why Lightfoot became the first mayor in four decades to lose reelection. Lightfoot’s feuds with the Chicago Teachers Union over a 2019 strike and Covid-19 policies, the surge in crime, and her poor relationships with the business community all hurt her. Ultimately, as former Barack Obama advisor David Axelrod put it, “she also was hurt by her style, which more often than not, was a clenched fist rather than an outstretched hand.

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© Dominic Moore, 2023