Democrat Mayor’s Loss Makes History

Photo by Sawyer Bengtson on Unsplash

Chicago’s first Black female and openly-gay Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, lost her reelection bid on Tuesday (February 28), the first to do so in 50 years.

Lightfoot, a Democrat, failed to acquire enough votes in the nine-person race to make it into the state’s runoff elections on April 4.

Instead, Paul Vallas, former CEO of Chicago schools, will face Brandon Johnson, a commissioner in Cook County, who had received the endorsement of Chicago’s Teacher Union.

Vallas and Johnson represent opposites on the political spectrum, although both are Democrats.

Vallas ran as a moderate, with a tough-on-crime and law-and-order message, while Johnson embraced a progressive agenda.

However, the message Johnson and Vallas’ support conveys is that Chicagoans want change, having rejected both Lightfoot and a sitting Congressman’s bid.

Lightfoot’s defeat is also significant, given she is Chicago’s first incumbent mayor to lose a Reelection Bid since the city’s first female mayor, Jane Byrne, lost her reelection bid in 1983.

On Tuesday evening, Lightfoot conceded her defeat, saying that while she lost, she still held her head high.

Lightfoot’s loss is unsurprising given she faced stiff competition and her tenure as Chicago’s mayor was dogged by a rise in crime, although she spent 2022 touting that, in 2022, crime in Chicago had gone down year-over-year.

That wasn’t enough to save her beleaguered position.

Instead, Vallas, with his tough-on-crime campaigning, was able to garner support in the vote-rich northern and northwestern sides of the city.

He also received the endorsement of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police.

His competitor, Johnson, wasn’t a shoo-in, with polls showing him trailing fellow Black candidate Willie Wilson.

But ultimately, Johnson’s having the backing of the powerful Chicago Teachers Union, emerged victorious.