Incumbent progressive Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her bid for reelection on Tuesday night after one term in office, outpaced by two challengers who will advance to a runoff race.
Lightfoot came in third with 16.6 percent of the vote behind former CEO of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas, who received 35 percent of the vote, and Cook County commissioner Brandon Johnson, who received 20.3 percent, according to CBS News Chicago. Since no candidate received more than 50 percent, a runoff election will be held. Vallas and Johnson will face off on April 4.
After a turbulent first term marked by backlash to Covid restrictions and concerns over rampant crime, Lightfoot faced an uncertain path to a second chance at leadership.
A former federal prosecutor whose early campaign platform included police reform and cracking down on city corruption, Lightfoot sailed to victory in 2019 as the political outsider option, making a bold entrance as the first black woman to lead the country’s third-largest city. Four years ago, Lightfoot bested Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle with 70 percent of the vote in a runoff election.
However, this cycle she’s had to contend with her plummeting popularity stemming from her poor management of crime and Covid, as well as eight rivals, including progressive U.S. congressman Chuy García, Johnson, and Vallas.
In December 2021, Lightfoot asked U.S. attorney general Merrick Garland to send additional federal resources to Chicago amid a surge in crime and gun violence. She requested federal marshals to assist the Cook County Sheriff's Office and Chicago Police Department with tracking down thousands of people wanted on warrants, as well as to help tackle gun-trafficking into Chicago from other states.
With the competition heating up, Lightfoot this week tried to reverse course on policing in an attempt to outflank her progressive opponents. On Saturday, Lightfoot accused Johnson of being a “radical” who'd “wreck our city” with defunding of police. She had embraced measures associated with the defund-the-police movement in 2020.
In the last few years, Lightfoot has sparred with the radically activist Chicago Teachers Union over compensation and class sizes during the pandemic. Johnson earned the endorsement of the union.
Departing from the example set by other Democratic mayors, Lightfoot pushed in 2022 to reopen schools after Covid. Lightfoot blasted the union’s teachers for refusing to come into work for multiple consecutive days over fears of the virus spreading, promising she would not allow them to “take our children hostage.” The mayor also called the teacher strike, which lasted eleven days, an “illegal work stoppage.”