The battle lines are being drawn in the Chicago mayoral election, with a sharp contrast between the two candidates.
In one corner of the ring stands Paul Vallas, a more conservative leaning Democrat. He had a bunch of stints as schools CEO for various cities, advocating for charter school expansion, something liberals are wary of. He’s advocated to implement more police than what’s currently allotted in the budget, in response to skyrocketing crime.
In the other corner stands the much younger and more dynamic Brandon Johnson. He’s the Cook County commissioner and ran to incumbent mayor Lori Lightfoot’s left. He’s called for slashing the police budget, and a handful of years ago, even declared his support for defunding the police entirely. He’s also openly declared his support for socialism.
The polls have been razor thin close, with three of them showing a four to five point spread, some with Vallas on top, some with Johnson on top.
That’s why endorsements will make all the difference in this race. Senator Bernie Sanders came out in support of Johnson, making the candidates politics quite clear. ““He is not afraid to stand up for strong unions and make big corporations and the rich pay their fair share,” said Sanders. Elizabeth Warren also hopped on the socialist bandwagon.
Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia ran in this mayoral election and eight years prior where he forced then incumbent mayor Rahm Emmanuel into a runoff. His fourth place finished proved his strength with Chicago’s latino community. He endorsed Johnson as well, and he’s been known to have a leftward bend.
But Willie Wilson, the fifth place finisher close behind Garcia, endorsed Vallas. Wilson campaigned as the official GOP candidate in the non partisan election, and placed strong in a number of black wards. He carries a lot of votes as a voice for more conservative black residents who are worried about crime.
And in a surprising win for Vallas, former candidate and community activist Ja’mal Green endorsed Vallas, saying he seemed “grandfatherly.” The young activist didn’t have many credentials, but acquitted himself well during the campaign, particularly in the mayoral debates. The hard left activist said that while he disagreed with Vallas on much of his politics (Green also supported slashing the police budget), he knew Brandon Johnson and said he was not trustworthy. Green said he got Vallas to agree to some policy implementations he was supporting. No word yet on if any favors will be owed in the future.
This is only a city mayoral election. But it has outsized importance. If Vallas wins, the trend of liberal, mostly left cities electing the most conservative option will continue. Especially as crime has boomed in half of America’s most major cities. If he loses, then it shows big city voters want an even more liberal, Socialist vision, blaming city woes on not tacking to the left hard enough.
The future of America hangs in the balance.
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